According to UNLV men’s golf head coach Dwaine Knight, his team didn’t play up to potential during the NCAA Columbus regional at Ohio State’s Scarlet course in Columbus, Ohio.
But the performance was good enough to advance to the team to the NCAA Golf Championships on May 25-30 at Karsten Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The 20th-ranked Rebels shot a three-round team total of 15-over 867 and finished third. The top five teams advanced to the finals.
Top-ranked Oklahoma State shot 8-under 844 to win and 12th -ranked Illinois was second at even par 852. Also advancing were fourth-place Northwestern at 16-over 868 and fifth-place Texas Tech at 18-over 870.
“It’s very rewarding to get through it and it wasn’t easy,” Knight said. “We played well on the first day, but it was a struggle after that.
“Nobody could get any putts to drop and that was sometimes frustrating for the players. They really had to dig deep to put the ball in the hole and they finished strong over the final few holes (Wednesday).”
UNLV was led by freshman Garrick Higgo who tied for 10th at 1-over 214. Rebels senior Shintaro Ban and junior Harry Hall tied for 13th at 2-over 215. Freshman Jack Trent tied for 37th at 11-over 224.
Jack Trent fires away to lead the Rebels in final round 3 @NCAA columbus Regional #UsNowLV #GoRebels live scores: https://t.co/HkwuY0VuSy (might not be current until rnd2 completes) pic.twitter.com/jeJeVQRxbQ
— UNLV Golf (@UNLVGolf) May 16, 2018
It will be the 21 st time in 30 years UNLV will play in the finals. The country’s top 30 teams advanced to the finals from six regional sites. The top eight teams after four rounds will advance to match play. UNLV reached the final eight a year ago.
“We’re a relatively young team other than Shintaro and we could surprise some people,” Knight said. “The Karsten course is going to be another very difficult test and our guys need to learn to be more patient. Sometimes it’s OK to make a bogey, but for young players that’s sometimes difficult to understand.
“We went eye to eye with Oklahoma State this week and it was a great learning experience. They will be the favorite because they are playing at home. Being paired with them this week was a real eye opener. What we learned will serve us well.”
Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider.