Getting acclimated to a new golf season isn’t always easy. It doesn’t help when none of a team’s players are familiar with the course. This was the case for Bradley’s men’s golf team, which finished 12th out of the 13 teams competing at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Kansas State earlier this week.
The early season woes leave Bradley with nothing to worry about since the Braves competed in the stacked Hoosier Invitational last week and this week, the Wildcat Invitational also featured top-100 schools.
According to head coach Jeff Roche, the challenging Colbert Hills golf course, which Kansas State calls home, made things harder.
“The golf courses have been tough,” Roche said. “They really exposed the things we needed to work on.”
For Bradley, its upcoming tournaments will be at courses that it has experience playing at.
“The next couple of weeks, we play a couple of places that we’ve played at quite a bit,” Roche said. “Hopefully the experience from the tough courses that we played the last few weeks will allow us to be a little more composed in the next couple weeks.”
Bradley walked away from the Wildcat Invitational with more experience, which was especially needed for graduate transfer Aaeri Krishnan.
At the end of last school year, Krishnan went back to his home country of Malaysia. After one day of being home, the country went on lockdown due to COVID-19. He did not have the opportunity to even hit a golf ball until he came to campus this fall, but it didn’t take long for him to knock the rust off.
In the final round of the invitational, Krishnan shot his season low of 77.
“Going into the final round on Tuesday, we started to see a little more of what he is capable of,” Roche said. “I expect that to continue as he keeps playing.”
The final round also featured great performances from the lone sophomore Brady Kreiter who shot three-over-par 75, and junior John Stillman who carded a 78.
“We have been nervous at the beginning of the rounds, and they just went out there and played and just allowed themselves to gain more confidence as the day went on,” Roche said.
Junior Josh Kirkham was the star for Bradley this week as he shot a one-under-par 71 in the second round and tied for 28th overall at the tournament.
Senior Jalen Hodges tied for 56th, Krishnan finished 58th, Stillman tied at 60th and Kreiter finished 63rd.
The team finished off the tournament strong, but it is the beginning rounds that have presented troubles.
“We need to get off to better starts in our rounds, controlling the things we can control,” Roche said. “Chipping and putting is pretty much like free throws in basketball. You are the one in control over that.”
The Braves’ golfers will compete in the Valpo Fall Invitational this Monday and Tuesday and they feel very optimistic about the trip.
“We need to trust that we have talent and are capable of doing some good things,” Roche said.