Las Vegas, Nevada (March 15, 2010)–For UNLV Head Golf Coach Dwaine Knight, it's not about how you start, it's how you finish. Ever since he came to UNLV in the mid-eighties, he has preached the importance of finishing off a round of golf in positive fashion. A tough finish led the Rebels into settling as the Co-Champs with UCLA of the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters at Las Vegas' Southern Highlands Golf Club.
The message of finishing strong is so indelible that recently a former player, Chris Riley, talked about how he needed to start finishing like a Rebel on the PGA Tour. And that was more than 10 years after he graduated. In 2010, the Rebels had an 8-shot lead with just a few holes left but leaked some oil coming in and allowed UCLA to earn a share of the title. There was no playoff because teams had travel arrangements which needed to be met.
The No. 14 UNLV men’s golf team shot a final-round 18-over 306 on Sunday and tied for first with UCLA at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. It was the first team co-championship in the event’s history. UNLV and UCLA both finished the tournament with a 54-hole score of 35-over 899, nine shots ahead of USC and Texas A&M, who tied for third at 44-over. UCLA shot a final-round 11-over 299 on Sunday. Texas Tech finished fifth at 47-over. “We had a chance to do it ourselves, but we didn’t quite get it done,” Knight told Golfweek College Golf Expert and Las Vegas resident Lance Ringler. “I feel we are fortunate to get the tie today because we did not hit the shots we needed to coming down the line.” Click now for complete Golfweek coverage.
UNLV has now won or tied for the team championship at the annual tournament at Southern Highlands in five of the last six years. UNLV won the tournament outright in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. This is the third straight year that UNLV has either won the championship outright or tied. Individually, Arizona State’s Jesper Kennegard held on for a one-shot victory at 3-over 219 after shooting a final-round 4-over 76. Florida’s Tyson Alexander and USC’s T.J. Vogel both tied for second at 4-over. Southern Highlands Golf Club is the official home course for UNLV, but the team also plays and practices at various other Las Vegas golf courses including Rio Secco Golf Club, a Las Vegas resort golf course designed by Rees Jones. Click now to view Rio Secco.
UNLV was led by Colby Smith and Eddie Olson, who both tied for 12th at 9-over 225, after shooting 2-over and 6-over, respectively on Sunday. Brett Kanda finished 15th at 10-over after a final-round 78, and Jeremiah Wooding also turned in a top-20 finish with a tie for 16th at 11-over after a 76 on Sunday. Derek Ernst finished tied for 29th at 15-over, while Kevin Penner, who played as an individual, tied for 67th at 27-over. UNLV will be back in action March 21-23, at the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz. Ernst came into this tournament as the 3-time reigning Mountain West Conference Golfer of the Month, but a final-round 80 didn't help the rebels' chance because his score wasn't used in the 5-play, four-count format.