Sneaky Kerr sets sights on NCAAs

Kristian Pope

Rob Kerr’s unlikely win two weeks ago at the NCAA Central Golf Regional came as a surprise to many, including the Gophers’ sophomore.
But according to Kerr’s coach, the win was inevitable.
Kerr made up a six-stroke deficit to surpass the field and become the only Gophers golfer to qualify for the 1996 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, which begins today in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“Rob has been on the verge of doing this for six to eight tournaments,” said Kerr’s coach John Means.
Despite seeing Kerr struggle earlier this year, Means was confident the standout from Quebec would put consecutive rounds together worthy of his talents.
Kerr appeared to solidify his position as a starter in late March with a seventh-place finish at the Border Olympics tournament in San Antonio. Then on April 20, Kerr plummeted to 78th at the Kepler Invitational.
Not discouraged by the sophomore’s play, Means played Kerr two weeks later at the season’s final regular season tournament, the Spartan Invitational. Kerr responded with a fifth-place finish.
And then the big win came at the regional in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Rob has gotten progressively better,” said Means, who has taken just one golfer to finals since he arrived at Minnesota in 1991. “He’s thinking real well. I’m expecting that to continue.”
It will have to if Kerr plans to stay close during the four-day event to be held a the par-72 Honors Country Club.
The field is strong. Stanford’s Tiger Woods recently took over as the nation’s top-ranked collegiate golfer with a 70.5-stroke average, compared to Kerr’s 75.8.
And even with the regional win to his credit, Kerr is ranked just 43rd in the nation, and there are several golfers ahead of him with lower stroke averages.
That includes Arron Oberholser of San Jose State (71.08), Brian Hull of the University of Southern California (72.3) and Brian Bateman of Louisiana State University (72.5).
But to Kerr’s advantage, recent success is on his side. In golf that can be more of an asset than great statistics.
That theory has already worked for Kerr, who beat then No. 1-ranked Brad Elder of Texas last week by six strokes. Elder is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with a 72.7 average.
“Rob knows he can play with these guys,” Means said. “He can play golf, no question.”
There’s no disputing Kerr can play. He has proven that. But when a player is on a roll, sustaining that level becomes the test.
“Because it’s so difficult,” Means said. “You watch the PGA leader board, and someone will be there five to six weeks in a row. Then he’ll drop down.
“It’s human nature. You can’t stay at the top very long. But I think he’s got a an additional couple rounds left in him,” Means added.