Jack Trent, a UNLV sophomore, became the first player to earn an exemption into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open by winning the Southern Highlands Collegiate in a playoff Tuesday at Southern Highlands.
“I don’t know what to say,” Trent said after beating Texas freshman Cole Hammer, the world’s ninth-ranked amateur, in a three-hole playoff. “It’s surreal because I used to be a member at TPC Summerlin and I visualized playing in the Shriners one day.
“I didn’t expect this to be my first college win, and I can’t explain what I am feeling other than it is amazing.”
The Shriners Open is Oct. 3-6 at TPC Summerlin.
Trent bogeyed the 17th hole Tuesday and lipped out a birdie putt on No. 18 for a final-round 71 and a 10-under 206 total.
He was the clubhouse leader by three shots over a group of players still on the course.
But Hammer forced the playoff with birdies on the final three holes for a final round of 8-under 64.
Trent won the three-hole playoff with a birdie. He barely survived the first extra hole when Hammer missed a 2-foot par putt that could have secured a victory.
Both players birdied the second playoff hole.
Oklahoma, Golfweek’s 11th-ranked team, shot 14-under 850 to win the team competition by a stroke over eighth-ranked Texas. UNLV finished tied for seventh with Texas Christian.
Trent won two Nevada state golf titles while at Palo Verde and is still coached by longtime Las Vegas teaching professional Clif Vanetti. Trent and his family moved to Las Vegas from Australia before his junior year of high school.
He credits his parents, John and Louise, with recently improving his overall mindset.
“I had a firm talking to with my mom and dad, and things have been turning around since then,” Trent said. “I’ll keep out the bad words, but basically I realized it was time to get my stuff together and get my head right. They reminded me that I am better than I have been believing that I am, and I kept reminding myself about that.”
UNLV coach Dwaine Knight said he believed it could be a successful week for Trent, last season’s Mountain West conference freshman of the year.
“He’s been really close, and he’s been playing well in qualifying and earning a spot. And I think that has been generating a lot of confidence,” Knight said. “He’s controlling the ball well and has the length, plus he isn’t afraid to go after things.
“I think this will be a big step for him. He seemed a lot calmer and more composed during this tournament.”
In his final home event, UNLV senior Harry Hall, a two-time winner this season, finished tied for 60th.