Marquette Wire

Marquette Golf: McKinney comes home

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For sophomore Jack McKinney, the 2012-13 golf season is a homecoming of sorts.

McKinney graduated from Marquette University High School, where he helped the Hilltoppers capture three conference championships and three sectional titles. McKinney shares the Marquette High single-round scoring record with a 68.

He had an impressive junior career as well, winning the 2011 WSGA Junior Championship and finishing runner-up at the Wisconsin PGA Junior Championship in June 2011.

The Big Bend, Wis., native spent his freshman season about 390 miles south at Maryville University in St. Louis, where he led the Saints in scoring average.  During his one-season stint, he set Maryville’s single-round scoring record with a 7-under-par 64 in the final round of the 2011 Maryville Fall Invitational.

McKinney said he always had wanted to come back and play at Marquette, and over last Christmas break, coach Steve Bailey gave him that opportunity.

“I wouldn’t say I expected to be in St. Louis all four years,” McKinney said. “I’m very happy that Coach (Glen) Paulus gave me an opportunity to play, and I don’t regret the experience at all.”

“The guys at Maryville were great, but they’re even better here. One of Coach Bailey’s core values is positive energy and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of showing that on and off the course.”

Due to NCAA rules prohibiting coaches from speaking with players from other programs, Bailey said it was McKinney who contacted him with interest in joining the Golden Eagles.

“He had an interest to come back, and we’re fortunate to have him,” Bailey said. “He had a pretty impressive freshman season and felt he was someone who could help us out.”

McKinney’s Midwest roots give him an advantage dealing with Milwaukee’s climate and weather as he’s grown used to playing in adverse conditions.

“With high school golf in the spring here in Wisconsin, we were never blessed with the best of weather,” McKinney said, “so you learn to acclimate to the conditions and accept them. It gives you an edge in the competition.”

McKinney was in the first lineup the team put forth this season, finishing in a tie for 63rd on the individual leaderboard with a score of 225 at the McLaughlin in Bethpage, N.Y.

Though McKinney hasn’t qualified for the team’s lineup since the Golden Eagle’s first event in New York, he said the increased competition was expected.

Over the winter break, he is hoping to work on his driving ability with his swing coach in Madison. McKinney admits he hasn’t been as straight off the tee as he would like this fall and wants to find more comfort in his swing.

But while the rest of the team has often struggled with its short game, Bailey said it was an area at which McKinney excels.

“It’s really just consistency for him that needs work,” Bailey said. “He has a really good short game and plays really well around the greens. He’s got a great competitive drive, and once he’s able to bring his tee game and iron play to that level, he should be able to get a spot in the lineup.”

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