UNLV's Oda Wins First Career Tournament In Florida

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - A frost delay of about two hours couldn't slow down UNLV freshman John Oda on the final day of the 7th Annual Sea Best Invitational, which was played at TPC Sawgrass' Dye's Valley Course (par 70, 6,873 yards).

Oda, who was four shots back entering Tuesday's final round, was the only individual (out of 81 in the tournament) to break par on the final day as he fired a tournament-low 3-under 67 to earn medalist honors by two shots with a 54-hole total of even-par 210.

The win was the first of Oda's career, which now spans five tournaments. It was his third top-10 finish of the season and the second individual victory by a Rebel this year (sophomore Taylor Montgomery won the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational in September).

"My goal today was to not make any bogeys and to just play consistent," Oda said. "I was able to make four birdies and one bogey. Overall, my ball striking was good and I putted great today. It is an awesome feeling."

"The course played tough and John controlled the ball really well," Head Coach Dwaine Knight said. "Tee to green there were a lot of hazards, but he was very consistent off the tee and his putting is improving. It is nice to see, especially for a freshman. To win a tournament with this kind of field on this kind of golf course is really outstanding."

Florida's AJ Crouch entered the final round with the individual lead, but his final-round 3-over 73 placed him second with a tournament total of 2-over 212. Florida State's Jack Maguire shot even-par 70 on Tuesday to finish third at 4-over.

As a team, UNLV shot the low round on Tuesday (8-over 288) and moved up a couple of spots in the standings to finish third at 42-over 882, nine shots back of team champion North Carolina. The Tar Heels shot 9-over during the final round and finished the event at 33-over. Florida finished second at 40-over, while North Florida was fourth at 44-over and Florida State rounded out the top five at 47-over.

The third-place finish marked the third of the season for the Rebels in five events.

UNLV had two others in the top 25 individually: senior Carl Jonson tied for 17th at 13-over 223 after a final-round 1-over 71, and sophomore Taylor Montgomery tied for 21st at 14-over 224 after a final-round 8-over 78.

Other Rebel scores: freshman Shintaro Ban tied for 34th at 18-over 228 after a final-round 2-over 72, and senior Kurt Kitayama tied for 51st at 22-over 232 after a final-round 9-over 79.

The tournament, which was the first of the Spring Season for UNLV, featured 15 teams and 81 individuals. UNLV will be back in action Feb. 18-20, at the John Burns Intercollegiate in Linhue Kauai, Hawaii.