September 13, 2009–The UNLV men’s golf team captured the team title for the second consecutive year on Saturday at the 17-team, 55th Annual William H. Tucker Invitational, and Rebel student-athletes Derek Ernst and Colby Smith each tied for medalist honors. The tournament, which was UNLV’s season-opening outing, was played at the University of New Mexico’s Championship Course (par 72, 7,562 yards).
UNLV, which finished with a 54-hole total of 21-under 843, won by a margin of 16 shots. Because of weather, the first day of the tournament was cut short when play was suspended during the second round. The Rebels, who were at 10-under for the second round at the end of play Friday, finished up the round on Saturday morning to card a tournament-low 15-under 273, which created the separation. UNLV wrapped up the title with an even-par 288 during the final round.
“We are really proud of the way everyone played,” UNLV head coach Dwaine Knight said. “The big thing we are stressing this year to the guys is to try to finish. We did a great job in the first and second rounds with that and were solid in the final round, which was huge.
“Our second round was very impressive since we had to quit yesterday and come back to finish it today. We were 5-under during today’s portion of the second round, which is what gave us that big lead. We have been talking so much about finishing, that it was nice to see results in that area.”
San Diego State was the only other team to finish under par as the Aztecs were 5-under 859 for second place. BYU finished third at 3-over, followed by Baylor at 4-over and defending NCAA Champion Texas A&M tied for fifth with Pepperdine at 5-over.
Ernst and Smith each shot 8-under 208 to beat the field by two shots. Smith wrapped up the second round with a tournament-low 8-under 64, while Ernst shot 4-under 68 in round two. Smith was 1-under, while Ernst was 1-over during the final round of play. BYU’s Robbie Filmore and Air Force’s Tom Whitney both tied for third at 6-under. UNLV’s Brett Kanda was a top-10 finisher as he finished in a three-way tie for sixth place at 4-under for the tournament.
“It was nice to see our two sophomores each get a win today as well,” Knight said. “Since there was no playoff, they each get credited with a tournament victory. It’s a great way to start the season for not only the two of them, but for the entire team.”
Complete UNLV scores: Team (1st, 282-273-288–843, -21), Derek Ernst (T1st, 67-68-73–208, -8), Colby Smith (T1st, 73-64-71–208, -8), Brett Kanda (T6th, 70-70-72–212, -4), Kevin Penner (T13th, 72-71-72–215, -1), Eddie Olson (23rd, 73-72-74–219, +3), Jeremiah Wooding* (T24th, 72-73-75–220, +4) and Jordan Epstein* (99th, 79-85-75–239, +23).
UNLV will be back in action on Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 19-20, at the Gene Miranda Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo. Report filed by Andy Grossman, UNLV Sports Information.