When both the UNLV men’s and women’s golf teams each won their second-straight Mountain West conference titles, and a host of conference awards were bestowed on Rebel players and coaches, I immediately began lobbying sports editor Bill Bradley about creating a bonus golf notebook dedicated entirely to the two nationally-ranked programs. He agreed, so please enjoy.
Last Thursday morning, UNLV men’s golf players and coaches gathered in the Las Vegas Country Club rotunda room to watch Golf Channel and find out where they would play in the NCAA regionals. Also gathered were alumni, media, Rebel Golf Foundation members and UNLV president Dr. Len Jessup. Shortly after the Rebels were named a third seed in the West Lafayette regional Jessup, a recreational golfer who lives on the DragonRidge course in Macdonald Highlands, spoke about his respect for both the men and women golf teams at UNLV.
“I am really proud of all the players and coaches,” Jessup said. “Back-to-back conference championships are very special and to have both the men and women do that is a great accomplishment. The exposure both programs bring to UNLV is very significant for the university. Not only for the golf programs, but it helps put the UNLV brand out there on a national level so it is huge for us. UNLV golf is a point of pride and it has been for a long time.”
For the UNLV men, this year marks the 29th-straight time head coach Dwaine Knight has led the team to the NCAA regionals. The streak dates back to 1989 when the Rebels finished fifth at El Paso Country Club in Texas, led by Brandon Goethals, Darin Osborne and Hub Goyen.
In 1990, Goyen became the first individual Rebel to win a regional title when he shot 68-68-65 at University Golf Course in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The women have now made the NCAA regionals for 15-straight years.
Lady Rebels make the grade
Last week, the NCAA released the Division I Academic Progress Rate public recognition awards and the UNLV women’s team had a perfect 1000 multiyear score, placing them in the top 10 percent in the country. This is the third-straight year that the team has earned the award and the eighth time in nine years it has had a perfect score.
“I take great pride in knowing our student athletes are successful in the classroom,” UNLV women’s head coach Amy Bush-Herzer said. “They continue to work very hard on the golf course and in the classroom. Every day it is my goal to make a difference in my student athletes and get them ready for whatever the next step in life may be.”
By deadline, the men’s APR was unavailable but the team has a long history of academic success.
“And the Mountain Conference award goes to” was a common refrain heard around the UNLV athletic offices last week. The UNLV men and women players and coaches combined to earn seven major annual awards.
Knight won coach of year while junior John Oda was named player of the year. Junior Shintaro Ban and sophomore Harry Hall earned first-team recognition.
For the women, UNLV senior Alexandra Kaui and junior Mackenzie Raim were named first team. Elizabeth Prior, a sophomore, was named to the second team.
Rebels in the pros
According to RivalsCup.com, UNLV men alumni ranked 7th on the PGA Tour in earnings as compared to other schools and have combined to earn $4,859,302 through the Valero Texas Open. Rebel alumni also combined to win $87,527 on the Web.com Tour and rank 12th through the El Bosque Mexico Championship.
Current Rebels on the PGA Tour include Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman, Bill Lunde, Ryan Moore, Chad Campbell and Andres Gonzales. Derek Ernst, A.J. McInerney and Kurt Kitayama play on the Web.com Tour.
Stars on, off course UNLV edition
Major UNLV golf booster Christina Hixson attended the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame induction as the guest of Knight and his wife, Debbie, and watched as Moore became the fourth UNLV golfer to be enshrined, joining Chris Riley, Jeremy Anderson and Campbell. The 1998 NCAA title team has also been inducted.
The golf notebook appears each Thursday. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.