Coronado teammates eye fantastic finish

Coronado golfers A.J. McInerney and Kenden Slattery have been through a lot in the past four years.

Two state championships, four region titles and McInerney's individual state title in 2009 are a sampling of the duo's shared experience with the Cougars.

And even after the festivities wind down following this year's Class 4A state tournament, Slattery and McInerney can look to four more years playing together - for coach Dwaine Knight at UNLV.

"We're great friends," said Slattery, who will walk on at UNLV. "We're going to UNLV together next year, and it's what we both wanted. He was really pushing for me to commit to UNLV to go play there with him. We're as good as it gets as friends. We help each other with the game a lot. We hang out outside of the game, at school or out of school. We're great friends on and off the golf course."

The Cougars will take that friendship into one more state meet, which begins at noon today at TPC Las Vegas.

McInerney and Slattery figure to be key players as Coronado tries for its third straight state title.

"Going into state, we definitely want to win," said Slattery, who carried a 76.0 stroke average during the regular season and shot a two-day 3-over 147 at the Sunset Region meet. "For me and A.J., it'll be three state titles. I'd want it to be four, but three is a good number, too."

Coronado settled for second when McInerney and Slattery were freshmen, falling to Spanish Springs by eight strokes in 2009.

Since then, the Cougars have been on a tear.

Coronado won its first title two years ago at TPC Las Vegas, then followed with last year's championship at Hidden Valley in Reno.

McInerney knows that won't make this year any easier.

"I'm glad our team was able to get it done (at regionals), and I know we're all going to be looking forward to (state)," McInerney said. "We've got a good test ahead of us."

With good memories of a course that challenges off the tee, Coronado coach Joe Sawaia is happy to have six players who consistently shoot in the 70s.

McInerney averaged 70.3 strokes, Matt Welch averaged 74.4, Kabir Nanar 75.6, Andrew Chu 76.0 and Bradley Keyer 77.4 during the regular season.

Slattery, though, might be peaking at the right time after shooting 70 on the final day of the region tournament.

"He's got a great golf swing, he's got a tremendous short game. He has no weaknesses," Sawaia said of Slattery. "He just needs to think his way around the golf course a little bit better, have positive thoughts. I highly expect him to come out strong and play well for us."

McInerney and Slattery hope to raise a trophy one more time before making more memories with the Rebels.

"We both enjoy competing against each other, and that won't change when we go to UNLV," McInerney said. "We're just going to have a great time, and enjoy every minute of it."

Contact reporter Sean Walker at or 702-383-0430.