Courtesy Photo / Jamie Schwaberow
Friday, May 31, 2013 | 3:10 p.m.
The UNLV men’s golf team’s season rested on the shoulders of its best player but in the end the Rebels couldn’t keep the magic going one more day.
With its match play against host team Georgia Tech even at two points apiece, UNLV’s Kevin Penner and the Golden Jackets’ Ollie Schniederjans went to a playoff hole to decide both their match and their teams’ fate. Schniederjans won the hole and UNLV’s season ended in the quarterfinals in Atlanta at the Capital City Club, one day after a miracle run got the Rebels into match play and left them as one of the last eight teams remaining in the country.
Unlike the rest of the tournament, which is stroke play, the final three days are match play with the top seed facing the eighth seed and so on. One point is up for grabs on each hole with any ties halving the hole.
The Rebels’ A.J. McInerney and Carl Jonson won their matches while Nicholas Maruri and Kurt Kitayama both fell on the final holes. It was Kitayama’s eagle from 208 yards out on Thursday that kept UNLV alive for a four-team playoff that it survived.
That left Penner and Schniederjans to decide the season. After trailing from the very first hole, Penner tied the match on No. 17 with a long birdie putt. Both players had pars on No. 18 so they went back to No. 1. Schniederjans’ approach set him up for an easier finish and he was able to finish off the Rebels.
The top three seeds — Cal, Georgia Tech and Alabama — all advanced with the Crimson Tide claiming a surprisingly easy 4-1 victory against New Mexico, the Mountain West champions. The only upset was No. 5 seed Illinois 3-2 against No. 4 seed Texas.
Penner, the Rebels’ lone senior, will continue playing golf professionally, hoping to join 2012 grad Derek Ernst as a rookie winner on the PGA Tour. The rest of the Rebels will be back next season for another swing at a national title.