No. 17 UNLV Men's Golf Wins NCAA Regional Title, Advances to National Finals
Release courtesy of UNLV Athletics
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - For the first time in 12 years, the surging UNLV men's golf team has won a NCAA Regional. The No. 17 Rebels shot a final-round 11-over-par 299 on Wednesday at the West Lafayette Regional in windy conditions to capture their first regional championship since 2005 and fifth in program history. The tournament was played at Kampen Golf Course (par 72, 7,4111 yards).
With the top-five finish, UNLV has advanced to the national finals for the second time in the last three years. This year's 30-team NCAA Championship will be played May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., outside of Chicago.
"The first two rounds we really played great golf and that set us up well going into today's final round," said UNLV head coach Dwaine Knight, who is in his 30th season guiding the Rebel golfers. "It was really tough out there today with high winds. The course played really hard, probably as difficult as any course that these guys have played. The big thing was that we hung in there and got it done at the end.
"Winning at NCAA Regionals is big for us and obviously gives us a chance to play for a national championship. Since mid-April we have played at a really high level, winning conference and now regionals gives us a lot of momentum heading into the national championship. I am very proud of our guys and we are excited to move on."
The Rebels finished the 54-hole event at 8-over 872, three shots better than second-place Auburn (+11). Illinois (+14), New Mexico (+16) and Purdue (+18) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, to move on to nationals as well. Missing the cut was Augusta (+21) and Saint Mary's (+12) in a tie for sixth, Florida (+27) in eighth, South Carolina (+31) in ninth and Campbell (+39) in 10th. Richmond (+42), Colorado (+46) and Cleveland State (+50) also failed to advance.
Individually, the Rebels had three players finish in the top six. Junior Shintaro Ban tied for third at 2-under, junior John Oda was fifth at 1-under and sophomore Harry Hall was sixth at even par. New Mexico's Andrej Bevins and Illinois' Nick Hardy both tied for medalist honors at 3-under, while Auburn's Matt Gilchrest also tied for third.
Ban and Oda both shot final-round scores of 3-over, while Hall was 1-over on Wednesday.
Other Rebels: freshman Justin Kim and senior Taylor Montgomery both tied for 54th at 14-over. Kim shot 7-over during the final round, while Montgomery was 4-over.
There were a total of six 54-hole regional tournaments. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each region advanced to the NCAA Championship finals. The individual to move on from West Lafayette was Trent Wallace from Illinois State. He finished seventh at 1-over after a final-round 7-over.
This year marked UNLV's 29th straight appearance in a NCAA Regional, which is the record for most consecutive appearances.
It also marks the second straight team title for the Rebels, who won last month's Mountain West Championship for the second consecutive year. This is just the second time that the Rebels have won their conference championship and a regional title in the same year (1994).
In 13 tournaments this season, UNLV has won three times and has placed in the top five on 10 occasions, including each of the last six outings.