Zane Thomas probably won’t have time for a nap today.
The UNLV sophomore golfer’s day begins with an 8:30 a.m. tee time at TPC Summerlin, where he will try to qualify for the U.S. Open for the first time.
From there, it’s off to UNLV, where Thomas will take a math final at 2 p.m.
He’ll then head to McCarran International Airport for a 6 p.m. flight to Chicago with the rest of the Rebels, who will play this week in an NCAA regional in Sugar Grove, Ill. The first round of the 54-hole event is Thursday.
“I can’t remember as busy a day as this,” said Thomas, who had to reschedule one of his other finals which had been scheduled today. “It’s going to be a test, but you just have to try to manage your time efficiently.”
Thomas, one of 153 golfers in today’s local qualifier vying for six spots in sectional play this month, has seen his game improve in the past few weeks. He’s hitting the ball straight and long off the tee, putting fairly well and posting decent scores for UNLV, the No. 5 regional seed.
Thomas, an Arbor View High School graduate, has averaged 73.35 strokes per round in nine events this year. He was named to the All-Mountain West team along with teammates Carl Jonson and Kurt Kitayama.
“My driving has been really good,” Thomas said. “It’s actually become my strength. I’m striking the ball as well as I ever have. If I can just get a few more putts to drop, everything would be perfect.”
The U.S. Open is June 12 to 15 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. It’s a challenge just to make the field, and Thomas knows he must stay patient on the TPC Summerlin course. Play tends to run slow at qualifying tournaments because there’s so much riding on the outcome.
“You can’t control the group you’re in, so you just have to have the mindset going in that it’s going to take longer than usual and not let it upset you,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to play at a good pace.”
While Thomas is excited about today’s U.S. Open local qualifier, he’s really looking forward to joining his teammates at Rich Harvest Farms for the NCAA regional. UNLV is coming off a third-place finish at the Mountain West championships last month.
“Things are coming together for us as a team,” Thomas said. “It would have been nice to win conference, but we had a great final round and we’ve got some positive momentum heading into regionals.
“We’re really motivated to get back to the nationals, and I’m glad I’m playing well enough to be part of it.”
Play at TPC Summerlin begins at 7 a.m. Admission is free.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.