Las Vegas, Nevada (July 9, 2012)–UNLV is a national powerhouse when it comes to college golf. The team won the 1998 NCAA title, and two individuals have won titles (Ryan Moore in 2004 and Warren Schutte in 1991). Kevin Penner is a current UNLV golfer with big dreams, and his expectations have increased following a win at the prestigious Sahalee Players Championship. –By Brian Hurlburt
Penner won the 19th Sahalee Players Championship on Friday, coming out on top after a three-way, sudden-death playoff at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. Penner attended Eastlake High School in Sammamish, and birdied the 72nd hole of the tournament to get into the playoff with Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho, and Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif. Penner then birdied the first playoff hole to capture the title.
All three competitors were on the green in regulation in the playoff. After Williams missed his 21-foot birdie attempt, Penner sank his 6-footer to put the pressure on Geyer, who saw his 4-foot try slide by the hole. It marked the first playoff at the event since 2006.
Playing in the final group of the day with Williams and standing on the tee of the 535-yard par-5 18th hole during regulation, Penner was two shots behind leader Williams and a shot behind Geyer, who was in the clubhouse at 9-under-par for the tournament after firing a final round 6-under-par 66.
"It was pretty clear what I had to do," Penner said afterward. He hit his tee shot 40 yards past his playing partners, then hit a long-iron from 210 yards to the center of the green and two-putted for a birdie and the tie.
Penner had a large following in the gallery as Sahalee had been the home course for his high school golf team. "Yes, Chris was defending his title, but my friends were telling me that I was defending my turf." It was a full-circle victory for Penner, who volunteered as a walking scorer at the 2006 SPC for eventual champion Kyle Stanley. "I always wanted to play in this tournament, and I always wanted to win this tournament." When asked if this is the biggest win of his young career, he said, "Absolutely. Definitely the biggest win for me."
This was the fourth SPC Penner has competed in. He tied for fourth in the championship last year. Penner began the day on Friday with a one-shot lead. He joins the list of SPC past champions that include Chris Williams, Casey Martin, Peter Uihlein, Nick Taylor, Daniel Summerhays, Kyle Stanley, former Rebel Ryan Moore, Arron Oberholser and Jason Gore, among others. More than a dozen golfers who have competed in the SPC have wound up on the PGA Tour.