It wasn’t anything UNLV did wrong, but more what Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans did right that ended the Rebels’ season Friday.
He was tied with UNLV senior Kevin Penner through 18 holes. In sudden death in the quarterfinals of match play at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, Schniederjans hit his second shot to within 2 feet of the hole, while Penner’s shot was within 12 feet. Penner missed his birdie putt, and Schniederjans made his, giving the Yellow Jackets a 3-2 win at the Capital City Club in Milton, Ga.
Georgia Tech, the No. 2 seed, will face No. 3 Alabama, a 4-1 winner over No. 6 New Mexico, in today’s semifinals. In the other semifinal, top-seeded California, a 3-2 winner over No. 8 Arizona State, will meet No. 5 Illinois, which eliminated No. 4 Texas, 3-2.
“It’s a tough way to end,” said Penner, who had rallied from one down to tie the match with a birdie at the 17th hole. “I wanted the match in my hands, and I let the team down.”
UNLV coach Dwaine Knight refused to let Penner shoulder the blame.
“We wouldn’t be here without Kevin,” Knight said. “He was tremendous this week, and he will be difficult for us to replace.”
The Rebels got wins from sophomore Carl Jonson (4 and 3 over Seth Reeves) and freshman AJ McInerney (2 up over Shun Yat Hak). Jonson’s match was tied through 10, and he then won the next three holes and clinched the victory on No. 15. McInerney never trailed and was 3 up through 11.
“They played really well,” Knight said. “That was some of the best golf we’ve seen from Carl, and AJ was showing how good he really is these last two days. He has immense talent.”
Sophomore Kurt Kitayama and junior Nicholas Maruri had UNLV’s other losses. Kitayama, the hero of Thursday’s round with his eagle at No. 18, fell to Anders Albertson, 2 and 1. Maruri lost to Bo Andrews 3 and 2 in a match that was tied after 13 holes.
“It was a great match,” Knight said. “The guys played really hard, but in match play, a missed putt or a missed shot can cost you, and we left too many missed opportunities out there.”
UNLV’s future looks promising. Four of five starters return, along with sophomore Zane Thomas. Plus, Knight will welcome a promising recruiting class, led by Foothill High School’s Taylor Montgomery.
“It’ll be fun to see who takes over and leads this team next year,” Knight said. “We’ve really come together as a team in the last 40 days, and I’m pleased to see we were competitive this week.
“We gained some toughness, and to win a national championship, you have to be pretty tough. Our goal is always to be a national championship program. We’re getting closer to being that caliber program again.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.