SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in 13 years, the University of Utah will be represented at the NCAA Golf Championships thanks to Kyle Dunkle’s strong play this season, capped off at last week’s NCAA regional at Stanford, California.
Dunkle, a senior from Larkspur, Colorado, earned a spot in the main event of the NCAAs after finishing in a tie for sixth place in the 75-player field at Stanford last week. He was the only individual golfer to qualify from the regional as just one golfer from each of the six regionals advanced to the main event along with five teams. In all, 30 teams and six individuals will compete this weekend at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The NCAA championships consist of three rounds of individual play Friday through Sunday with the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on advancing teams moving on to a final round on Monday to determine the individual champion. The last individual NCAA champion from the state of Utah was Utah State’s Jay Don Blake, who won the individual title in 1980 at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course.
Dunkle won two tournaments this year, the Showdown in the Rockies and the Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational, and finished in the top 10 in six tournaments. He also won a tournament as a junior and this year has a 70.9 scoring average, a school record. After his second-place finish at the Pac-12 tourney, he was named to the Pac-12 all-conference second teamComment on this story
The 22-year-old Dunkle, who transferred from Colorado State after his freshman year, won the Colorado State Amateur last summer, finished second in the Utah State Amateur and qualified for the U.S. Amateur. Last month he qualified to play on the PGA Tour Canada and will turn professional directly after the NCAAs, beginning play on that tour later this month.
“This has been a great opportunity to make an impact on the program and make some roots for the years to come,” Dunkle said. “It's helped me grow as a golfer, as a person and I matured a lot when I was here. The coaches had a major impact on who I am and it’s been a really great experience."
The last Ute golfer to play at the NCAA Championships was Dustin Pimm in 2006 and the last time a Ute team played in the NCAAs was in 1988.