Season Ends In Sudden Death Playoff
May 31, 2013
MILTON, Ga. (UNLVRebels.com) - After what UNLV men's golf head coach Dwaine Knight called "a miracle" that got the Rebels into a playoff after 54 holes of stroke play on Thursday, it again took an extra hole to decide the season for UNLV in the quarterfinals of match play Friday 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.
Kurt Kitayama's eagle from 208 yards out on the par-4 finishing hole during the third round was the shot that Knight was referring to and kept UNLV's national title hopes alive as it eventually ended up as the No. 7 seed entering its quarterfinal match-play contest with No. 2 seed and host Georgia Tech.
In that match, Rebel Sophomore Carl Jonson defeated Seth Reeves, 4&3, and freshman AJ McInerney got past Shun Yat Hak, 2 up, to record the UNLV wins, while Anders Albertson defeated sophomore Kurt Kityama, 2&1, and Bo Andrews defeated junior Nicholas Maruri, 3&2, for Georgia Tech's wins in regulation. Both team's top players, Rebel senior Kevin Penner and Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans finished all square after 18 holes before Schniederjans won on the 19th hole to give the Yellow Jackets the 3-2 victory to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
"We found our identity as a team this last month and we developed some toughness and focus that was really needed," Knight said. "I am very proud of the fight we had this week and our resilience, which is what it takes to win these things. But today was a very painful loss. We played great golf, but lost right at the end.
"Again, I am very proud of our guys and this is going to be good for us down the line. You just hate to lose these because opportunities like this are so precious. It will be difficult for us over the next few days, but we have some fabulous memories from this week that we will be able to look back on, especially yesterday. It was such an incredible day (Thursday) with such a wide range of emotions while we were waiting to see if we would get in, then advancing in a playoff. But today really stings to have played such great golf and to come up just short. What a great run it was, but that obviously doesn't take the pain away of not being able to advance."
In other quarterfinal action, top-seeded California defeated No. 8 seed Arizona State, 3-2, No. 5 seed Illinois beat No. 4 seed Texas, 3-2, and No. 3 seed Alabama defeated No. 6 seed New Mexico, 4-1.
The Rebels were 10 shots back of the cut line when Thursday's round started, turning in the lowest score of the day to earn a spot in a four-way playoff for the final three match-play spots. UNLV moved from a tie for 21st into a tie for 6th with its round of 8-under during the final stroke-play round. This year marked the first time UNLV advanced to match play at the national finals (this format was not in place prior to 2009). The NCAA Championship started with 30 teams and six individuals not on those teams - in all, 156 players competed. Five teams and one individual not on those teams advanced from each of six regionals to make up the field for the finals.
The 2013 NCAA finals were 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.