St. Xavier senior Jay Kirchdorfer chips a ball onto the green ― Kirchdorfer committed to Kentucky in August ― Photo courtesy of Jay Kirchdorfer
St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the best high school golf programs in the state and the city of Louisville has developed into a pipeline for UK golf recruiting. The program is full of rich tradition and alumni that have gone on to compete at the highest levels of golf, including Justin Thomas, a PGA professional.
Thomas, a 2011 graduate of Saint X, won the 2017 PGA Championship to capture his first major title. Following graduation, Thomas spent two seasons playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide, before turning pro in 2013.
Thomas’ father, Mike Thomas, is the head professional at Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Kentucky. When home, Justin often plays at Harmony, which is the same course that recent UK commit Jay Kirchdorfer plays.
Kirchdorfer, a senior at Saint X, announced his commitment to Kentucky on August 23rd via his Twitter account. Thomas followed Kirchdorfer’s tweet with a congratulatory tweet of his own.
Congrats man! Cool stuff
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) August 24, 2017
Kirchdorfer felt comfortable committing to the Wildcats because of the familiarity with the current group of players, which includes his best friend.
“I grew up with many of them in Louisville,” said Kirchdorfer. “Allen Hamiliton (redshirt freshman) is one of my best friends ― “I’ve come to realize how incredibly important it is to be close with your teammates.”
The Wildcats had a number of things working in their favor when Kirchdorfer decided to make his decision. The job coach Brian Craig is doing doesn’t go unnoticed and Louisville is roughly an hour away from Lexington, both important factors in Kirchdorfer’s recruitment.
“He (coach Craig) has done a phenomenal job ― he is a great coach and person,” said Kirchdorfer. “I also love how close to home I am ― it gives me the opportunity to go home occasionally.”
Committing to a winning program was very important to Kirchdorfer, who is very used to winning himself. He helped lead Saint X to a KHSAA state championship in 2016 and as an individual, he won over fifty junior tournaments in his junior career.
Kentucky was the only school to offer, but Virginia kept in contact, before he decided to stop talking to schools when he realized Kentucky was home. The UK commit understands that playing SEC golf will be a major challenge, something that will require him to continue to develop his strengths and improve his weaknesses.
“My strength has always been my short game and my ability to score ― I’ve always been good around the greens,” said Kirchdorfer. “My weakness is most likely my iron play ― I don’t consistently hit approach shots close like many of the top players.”
Whenever he wants tips to improve his game, Kirchdorfer can always ask Justin Thomas, whom he has gotten to know through Saint X and Harmony Landing Golf Club.
“I’ve known Justin for a few years ― He has been extremely nice to me and many of the junior golfers in Louisville,” said Kirchdorfer. “He is extremely humble for the amount of success he’s had and is one of the nicest guys I know ― and trust me, this major will definitely not be his last.”
Kirchdorfer has less than a year until he steps on campus at the University of Kentucky, but the feeling of family already exists, which is something he couldn’t pass up.
“This team is like a family and I am very excited to be a part of that.”