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Southern Highlands Collegiate attracts top teams, players

There is a certain “it” factor at the annual Southern Highlands Collegiate, the home tournament of the UNLV men’s golf team.

A who’s who of PGA Tour stars played in the tournament as college golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, Billy Mayfair, Charley Hoffman, Patrick Rodgers, Camilo Villegas and many others.

This year’s tournament, to be played Monday through Wednesday, features another deep field highlighted by Rebels senior Shintaro Ban, who is on the Fred Haskins watch list. The Haskins award is considered the Heisman Trophy of college golf.

Others on the list scheduled to play include the top two golfers in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Justin Suh from Southern California and Davis Riley from Alabama. Also playing are Fredrik Nilehn of Texas Tech, Sahith Theegala of Pepperdine and Brad Dalke of Oklahoma.

Teams playing (with national Golfweek ranking in parentheses) are Oklahoma (No. 4), Alabama (7), Florida (8), Texas Tech (10), USC (17), Illinois (19), Pepperdine (23), UCLA (24), Brigham Young (33), Northwestern (36), Texas Christian (37), UNLV (47), Central Florida (50), Washington (77) and Southern Methodist (110).

The Rebels have won the tournament 11 times, the last one in 2014. During a stretch from 2005 to 2014, they won the tournament seven times, and two Rebels — Matt Kinsinger (2006) and Blake Biddle (2012) — claimed individual titles.

While UNLV’s lineup for the tournament isn’t official, the Rebels should be led by Ban, junior Harry Hall, freshman Jack Trent, freshman Garrick Higgo and sophomore Justin Kim.

That lineup won the National Invitational Tournament on Monday in Tucson, Arizona. Ban was the individual champion, Higgo finished fifth, Trent sixth, and Hall and Kim tied for 12th.

“It’s been a long time coming that UNLV has made a run at the Southern Highlands Collegiate title, and it’s about time we made another one,” UNLV assistant coach Philip Rowe said. “This is a championship year for us, so we need to be looking at being in the thick of the competition down the stretch.”

USC is the two-time defending champion. The event is open to the public.

Junior honors

The Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association 2017 players of the year were Riana Mission, Rebecca Oertal, Cameron Gambini and Jackson Parrish. Sportspersons of the Year were Hunter Pate, Kyndall Newman, Sam Baral and Noah MacFawn.

Weekly deal

Learn to golf junior instruction classes start at eight area courses this week. The series of four lessons are $75. Information is at SouthernNevadaJuniorGolf.com.

Stars on, off course

Colorado’s Eagle Wynne McMahon won the Las Vegas Challenge at Wildhorse, the first event of the 2018 Professional Disc Golf Association season.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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