Josh Kirkham follows at the Wildcat Invitational in Manhattan, Kansas. Photo courtesy of Loyola Athletics.
Getting used to a new golf season is not always easy. It doesn’t help if none of the players on a team is familiar with the pitch. Such was the case with Bradley’s men’s golf team, which finished 12th out of 13 teams earlier this week in the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Kansas State.
The problems early in the season leave Bradley nothing to worry about as the Braves competed in the stacked Hoosier Invitational last week and the top 100 schools also featured in the Wildcat Invitational this week.
The challenging Colbert Hills golf course, which Kansas State calls home, made things difficult, according to head coach Jeff Roche.
“The golf courses were tough,” said Roche. “They really revealed the things we had to work on.”
For Bradley, the upcoming tournaments will take place on courses that the company already has experience in.
“In the next few weeks we’ll be playing in some places where we’ve played quite a lot,” said Roche. “Hopefully the experience from the tough courses that we have played in the last few weeks will enable us to be a little more composed in the next few weeks.”
Bradley left the Wildcat Invitational with more experience, particularly needed for the Aaeri Krishnan graduate transfer.
At the end of the final year of school, Krishnan returned to his native Malaysia. After a day at home, the country was locked due to COVID-19. He didn’t even get a chance to hit a golf ball until he got to campus this fall, but it wasn’t long before he knocked the rust off.
In the final round of the invitation tournament, Krishnan hit his season low of 77.
“When we went to the finals on Tuesday, we started to see what he’s capable of,” said Roche. “I assume it will continue like this while he continues to play.”
The final round also featured great performances from lone sophomore Brady Kreiter, who shot three over par 75, and junior John Stillman, who carded a 78.
“We were nervous at the beginning of the round and they just went out and played and just got more confident as the day went on,” said Roche.
Junior Josh Kirkham starred for Bradley this week as he scored a 71 under par in the second round and finished 28th overall in the tournament.
Senior Jalen Hodges was 56th, Krishnan 58th, Stillman 60th and Kreiter 63rd.
The team ended the tournament strong, but it’s the opening rounds that caused problems.
“We have to start better in our laps and control the things that we can control,” said Roche. “Chipping and putting are pretty much like free throws in basketball. You are in control of it. “
The Braves golfers will be competing in the Valpo Fall Invitational this Monday and Tuesday and are very optimistic about the trip.
“We have to be able to trust that we have talent and that we are able to do good,” said Roche.