WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Let’s not be surprised.
A Purdue golfer, on his home course, posting a solid score in the first round of the Golfweek Midwest Collegiate. Maybe it was just identifying which of the six Boilermakers in the field would be at the top of the leaderboard of this first-time event for college-aged players on the Kampen Course.
The fact that’s it’s Cole Bradley, again not a surprise since he knows the greens and every blade of pristine grass on the more than 7,300-yard layout. His 5-under-par 67 included six birdies during a stretch of nine holes.
Bradley made four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to sit in the top spot, although Kent State’s Josh Gilkison made a late run for the No. 1 position before a double bogey on No. 17 forced him to finish with a 4-under 68.
“He loves it,” said Purdue teammate Joe Weiler, who finished with a 1-under 71. “He plays this course really well. Any day of the week – he can beat me; I can beat him. He played well and I’m not surprised.”
Based on the first-round scores, there are plenty of competitors in this event capable of posting low numbers. Wednesday’s near-perfect conditions, other than a steady breeze, gave the field a golden opportunity to take control during this stroke-play format.
Gilkison’s 68 featured five birdies over a seven-hole stretch, including three straight on Nos. 14-16 before disaster struck on No. 17. Indiana’s Drew Salyers posted a 69 trying to keep up with Gilkison and Bradley, whose father, Rob, is the head coach of the Boilermakers.The 67 wasn’t his best score on Kampen from the back tees – it’s a 7-under 65 – but coming off a summer of playing in tournaments throughout the state and practicing at Purdue, momentum was on Bradley’s side.
He played in four Indiana tournaments and a couple of amateur events.
“I played well in all my Indiana golf tournaments. I’ve been playing well in Indiana this summer and I’m looking for a good finish coming in this week,” Bradley said.
Scores: Golfweek Midwest Collegiate
He bogeyed No. 1 but chipped in for eagle on the par 5, 4th hole. However, a bogey on No. 5 was a minor setback before starting his run of birdies on No. 7. He also birdied No. 13 and No. 15 to reach 6 under before bogeying No. 18.
“I caught fire a little bit,” he said. “I started making some putts and hitting some close wedges.”
The Boilermakers had three players in the top 10 after the first day. Joining Bradley and Weiler was Peyton Snoeberger, who shot an even-par 72. Andrew Farraye finished with a 74 and incoming freshmen Nic Hofman and Nels Surtani each shot a 78.
The coronavirus outbreak shut down Bradley and Purdue’s season back in March and it was unclear when he and his teammates could return to the course. They slowly made their way back, playing in competitive tournaments over the last four months.
This event will be the last before the players are scheduled to be on campus for their first practice on Aug. 19.
“It’s nice getting a tournament on our home course before qualifying and everything starts,” Bradley said.
Mike Carmin covers Purdue sports for the Journal & Courier. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @carmin_jc
67: Cole Bradley (Purdue)
68: Josh Gilkison (Kent State)
69: Drew Salyers (Indiana)
70: Kyle Flexsenhar (South Florida), Nick Willis (Wofford), Ben Hoagland (Michigan)
71: Joe Weiler (Purdue), Charlie Pilon (Michigan), Joe McCarthy (Cincinnati)