Daily Egyptian

Luke Gannon: golfing for more than just honors

By Adam Warfel, Sports Reporter

Luke Gannon a senior studying finance was recently named the MVC Golfer of the Week.

Gannon comes from Wichita, Kansas and played many sports growing up, eventually landing in golf.

“I played baseball until seventh grade,” Gannon said. “I played hockey for four years and started golf when I was 14.”

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Gannon found himself tired of baseball, and his brother started golfing so he decided to turn to golf as an alternative.

“I got burnt out on baseball so my brother and I started golfing,” Gannon said. “It was fun, it’s all on you as an individual sport and that’s part of the fun.”

Gannon recalled a moment when he was visiting his family in Washington as one of his earliest golfing memories.

“In Washington state, where some of my family lives, going out there with my uncle to a water range, I was probably ten,” Gannon said. “That’s like the first time I ever played.”

As a finance major, Gannon credits watching stocks at a young age as a primary driver of his interest in that area.

“I just liked stocks in high school,” the Kansas native said. “It’s interesting to learn about all the different investments.”

In high school golf, Gannon competed in the windy state of Kansas, so golfing at times could be challenging.

“The conditions weren’t ever good, but I did enjoy going out there and playing with my friends,” Gannon said. “I liked playing on my own.”

Gannon appreciates the conditions in Carbondale much better than those of Wichita, they make it easier to practice.

“It’s not very windy compared to Kansas,” Gannon said. “You can’t practice much in Wichita because [the wind’s] always blowing 30-40 mph.”

Gannon looks back to high school and a friend that competed in several mini-tours, and played golf with him.

“In high school, I had a mentor,” Gannon said. “He helped me get recruited, he helped me get to school, he was a big influence on how I was able to get better in high school.”

When Gannon was looking at where to play golf in college, his late start in golf limited his scholarship offers.

“[SIU] was my only division one offer,” Gannon said. “Because I started late, I was late to the recruiting side.”

Gannon was a part of head coach Justin Fetcho’s first recruiting class at Southern, and Gannon fit the kind of player he was looking for.

“It was my first recruiting class,” Fetcho said. “I was looking for players that had their best golf in front of them, wanted to work hard and wanted to start something.”

Gannon has been with Coach Fetcho since 2015 when they both arrived here at SIU, and he appreciates how much Fetcho cares for his players.

“We have our times where we may not like him for getting on us,” Gannon said. “But I’d rather have someone who cares than someone who doesn’t.”

Peyton Wilhoit, a senior studying accounting, came in the same Freshman class as Gannon and has seen him grow as a golfer since his freshman year.

“He knows how to play golf now,” Wilhoit said. “He’s always going to hit where he’s looking and he understands how to get around a golf course a whole lot better.”

Gannon traces the success he’s had so far this fall season back to last spring and switching swing coaches.

“I started playing better last spring,” Gannon said. “I started to score a little better, more consistently and last spring switched coaches and [the new coach] really helped me out.”

Looking back on how much he had improved since his freshman year, Gannon said he had hard courses his first semester.

“My freshman year was pretty bad,” he said. “I got exposed my first semester to some really hard courses. It opened my eyes to what I needed to work on.”

Fetcho said Gannon has learned how to play the game better since his freshman year at Southern.

“He’s got more mature, he’s worked hard and he’s been able to learn along the way,” Fetcho said.

Wilhoit enjoys the approach that Gannon takes to the course and thinks they look at it through a similar lens.

“I feel like we see golf really similar,” Wilhoit said. “We’ve grown to almost think the same way.”

All the hard work Gannon has put in since his freshman year paid off, as he was given the nod as MVC Golfer of the Week after the Dawgs tournament at the University of Notre Dame.

“I went up and told him and I think he was a little shocked,” Fetcho said. “He’s obviously had better finishes in his career than what that one was.”

Wilhoit was also surprised at the fact that Gannon earned the award that week, but mentioned he has played well, and is deserving of the honor.

“He’s always joked that his best finishes come on a week when someone else finishes better than him in another tournament,” Wilhoit said. “But it’s no surprise for him to get any award.”

Gannon finished 17th in the tournament with a score of 209.

As their eyes start to shift towards the spring season, the determination to do better is still within Gannon, with goals of a conference title in the spring.

“Main goal [is to] win conference [and] have a little more consistency within our finishes from week to week,” Gannon said.

This golf team has progressed significantly since Gannon’s freshman campaign here at Southern and they’re only getting better.

“We’re getting better each and every year,” Gannon said. “I think we’ve done some pretty good stuff lately and we’ve improved every year. This year can be one of our best.”

The SIU men’s golf team will close out their fall season the weekend of Nov 2-4 at the University of Hawaii in the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic.

Wilhoit enjoys the confidence that Gannon shows and said he truly believes Gannon will only get better.

“He’s somebody that believes in himself and what he can do,” Wilhoit said.

Sports reporter Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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