Rebels Advance To 'Elite Eight' March Play

May 30, 2013

MILTON, Ga. (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV men's golf team went from a tie for 21st to a tie for sixth place with a final-round in stroke play of 8-under 272 on Thursday at the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship, which is being played at the Capital City Club Crabapple Course (par 70, 7,319 yards) just outside of Atlanta.

The Rebels, who were 10 shots back of the cut line when the day started, turned in the lowest score during the third round - three shots better than any other team.

Sophomore Kurt Kityama's eagle try from 208 yards out on the par-4, 523-yard ninth hole, which was his last of the day, found the bottom of the cup and gave UNLV a 54-hole total of 2-over 842. That score kept the Rebels' hopes alive and ended up putting them in a tie for sixth and a four-way playoff for the last three spots in match play. New Mexico, UNLV and Arizona State all advanced (in that order) with even par during the one-hole playoff, while Texas A&M was eliminated with a playoff score of 1-over.

Now, the final eight teams will meet in a single-elimination three-day match play tournament that will begin on Friday and crown a team national champion on Sunday. California finished the stroke play portion of the tournament in first place at 16-under 824, followed by host Georgia Tech in second at 10-under. Alabama and Texas both tied for third at 7-under, while Illinois finished fifth at 5-under.

UNLV, which has advanced to the match play portion of the national finals for the first time (this format was not in place prior to 2009), will be paired up with Georgia Tech during Friday's quarterfinal round. Tee times for the No. 7 seed Rebels and No. 2 seed Yellow Jackets begin at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Also with the end of stroke play, an individual national champion was determined on Thursday. That title went to California's Max Homa, who won by three shots at 9-under 201 after a final-round 4-under 66. There was a six-way tie for second at 6-under that included UNLV senior Kevin Penner, this year's Mountain West individual champion. Penner shot under par in each of his three rounds this week with scores of 69-67-68. His final-round 2-under consisted of three birdies and a bogey.

Kitayama finished tied for 32nd at even-par, but his final round was UNLV's best of the day as he turned in a 3-under 67. In addition to his eagle, he had three birdies and a bogey. Fellow sophomore Carl Jonson tied for 93rd at 6-over after a final-round 1-under, while freshman AJ McInerney tied for 109 at 8-over after a final-round 2-under. Junior Nicholas Maruri tied for 128th at 10-over after a final-round 3-over.

The tournament featured 30 teams and six individuals not on those teams - in all, 156 players competed.

The 2013 NCAA Championship is UNLV's 18th all-time appearance. The Rebels won the national title in 1998 in Albuquerque, N.M., and its previous best finish at the event was a second-place showing in 1996. Out of its 18 appearances at the national finals, the Rebels have now recorded 10 top-eight finishes. UNLV also boasts two individual national champions - Ryan Moore in 2004 and Warren Schutte in 1991.

NCAA.com will offer live web streaming on Friday from 1:15 - 5:00 p.m. ET.