Kane Ybarra will represent OLLU golf at NAIA National Championship

Senior Kane Ybarra (SR/San Antonio, Texas) of OLLU men’s golf will be competing in the 69th Annual NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship at TPC Deere Run starting on May 18 in Silvis, Ill.

Ybarra started the 2021 season strong by hoisting the San Antonio Shootout individual trophy. Following the tournament, Ybarra was ranked No. 2 in the NAIA. He is now ranked sixth among 150 NAIA collegiate players from throughout the country.

Ybarra recently took third place on the individual leaderboard at the A.I.I. Conference Tournament in early May. His 216 score in three rounds of play helped lead the Saints to a second-place finish. He received an individual bid for nationals based on his performance throughout this season.

Ybarra said, “I’ve been practicing every day leading up to the NAIA Championship. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the course and mentally preparing for the holes and shots I will have to hit while playing.”

During his four years at OLLU, he tallied 13 top-five finishes. Ybarra finished in first place at the University of Houston-Victoria Fall Classic in only his second collegiate tournament during his freshman season in 2016. His other top-five finishes include: 

  • Fourth at the Litz Memorial – Feb. 2014
  • Second at the San Antonio Shootout – Feb. 2017
  • Fourth at the TPC Deer Run – April 2017
  • Third at the RRAC Tournament – April 2017
  • Third at the UHV Fall Classic – Sept. 2018
  • Fifth at the Texas Intercollegiate Invitational – Sept. 2019
  • Fourth at the UHV Fall Classic – Sept. 2019
  • First at the Greater San Antonio Amateur Championship – July 2020
  • First at the San Antonio Shootout – Feb. 2021
  • Third at the Schreiner Shootout – March 2021
  • Fourth at the UHV Claud Jacobs Invitational – March 2021
  • First at the San Antonio Invitational – April 2021
  • Third at the A.I.I. Conference Tournament – May 2021

He has helped lead the team to three first-place finishes in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Tournament and three NAIA National Tournament appearances. During nationals in 2017, the team finished in 15th place; in 2018, in 21st place; and in 2019, in 36th place. in 2016-2017, Ybarra was an All-American First-Team selection.

He also was part of the RRAC All-Conference team during his freshman 2017 season and sophomore 2018 season. The 2019-2020 season was canceled after three fall tournaments and three spring tournaments due to COVID-19 restrictions. Despite most of the spring season being canceled, Ybarra was still awarded the A.I.I. All-Conference team in 2020. In 2017, Ybarra was named Player, Freshman and Newcomer of the Year for the RRAC. 

Head Coach Arnie Martinez has guided Ybarra during his career at OLLU and will be making the trip with him to nationals. Martinez commented, “It’s great that Kane received an individual bid. He’s been working hard and playing well all year. I’ve been able to coach Kane since he arrived at OLLU. He’s been through his ups and downs and it’s great to see him finish off his collegiate career with a chance to win a national championship. He’s one of the best golfers to come through this program. It will be a fun week, and I am excited to see what it entails.”

When asked about Martinez’s coaching, Ybarra responded, “Arnie has been with me since my freshman year, so we have spent a lot of time together. Over the years I have been able to grow and mature and he has always been there for anything I have needed. He is family.”

Ybarra, who completed his Bachelor of Business in Marketing this May, plans to either play one more summer of amateur golf or begin his journey of chasing his dream to becoming a professional golfer. He is hoping for a solid finish at nationals to open doors in the near future. He will tee off at 9:30 a.m. on May 18 alongside Jack Dudeck and Alberto Uriach.