Story courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications
RADFORD, Va. - Its on to Oklahoma for the No. 33 ranked Kent State men's golf team for the 2011 NCAA Championship. The Golden Flashes, who will be making their second straight and third finals appearance in the last four years, wrapped up the East Regional on Saturday taking fifth place in the 13 team field. The NCAA Championship held May 31 - June 5 at Oklahoma State's Karstan Creek Golf Club in Stillwater.
"We didn't play our best today, but we were good enough," said Head Coach Herb Page, who has now led the Golden Flashes to 13 NCAA Finals in his 33 years. "It always an enjoyable journey and sometimes you are able to get through even when you are not on your game. There was a huge amount of pressure out there and our guys delivered down the stretch when we needed it."
Led by a one-over 73 from freshmen Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ontario), Kent State posted a final round team score of 301 and a 54-hole total of 893 (296-296-301). At 29-over for the tournament, the Golden Flashes advance by three shots over host Virginia Tech which placed sixth with a 32-over 896 (300-300-296). Also moving on from the East Regional are No. 16 Duke, No. 4 Georgia Tech, No. 28 Oklahoma and No. 10 LSU.
The story of the day came down to Nos. 17 and 18 which by no coincidence played as the toughest two holes all week. With the Golden Flashes' cut line cushion dwindled down to just a couple of stokes, Kent State played the final two holes at one-over par as a team.
"Nos. 17 and 18 were really the difference for us today," said Page. "We knew the scores were getting tighter so I told a couple of our guys that if we're going to lose this lets go down hitting some golf shots and force the other team to beat us."
It seems the Golden Flashes got the message as sold iron shots helped seal the fifth place finish.
For the second straight year youth was served at the East Regional for the Golden Flashes. Pendirth becomes the second consecutive freshman to finish as Kent State's top performer in a NCAA Regional tournament. Playing the par 72 Pete Dye River Course, Pendrith wrapped up a solid week by making four birdies on Saturday, and closed out the week tied for 14th with a 220 (72-74-73).
"I got off to a good start and had four really good looks at birdies on the first few holes," said Pendrith. "I ran into a little hiccup with a triple on No. 7, but I tried to stay positive because I knew the team was going to need me coming down the back nine."
Sophomore Kevin Miller (Dover, Ohio/Sugarcreek Garaway), who placed fourth at the 2010 NCAA East Regional last season, was also in the top 20 this year as he tied for 18th with a 222 (74-71-77). The last guy on the course for Kent State once again today, Miller made a key birdie on the par 3, 225-yard 17th to add an extra insurance stroke then made a safe bogey on No. 18 to send the Golden Flashes onto Stillwater.
Junior Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ontario / Highland Secondary) also had a strong finish with a birdie on the par 4 18th as he was second on the team with a two-over 74. Hughes tied for 37th with a 227 (77-76-74). After a stretch of four straight bogeys, senior John Hahn (Las Vegas, Nev. / Hudson [Ohio]) refocused to close out the rounds with two straight pars as he shot a final round 77. Hahn also tied for 37th with a 227 (75-75-77). Senior Brett Cairns (Courtland, Ontario/Holy Trinity) cared a second straight 78 on Saturday to end the tournament tied for 46th with a 231 (74-78-78).
Kent State Rd1 - Rd2 - Rd3 = Total
T14 Taylor Pendrith 73 - 74 - 73 = 220
T18 Kevin Miller 74 - 71 - 77 = 222
T37 John Hahn 75 - 75 - 77 = 222
T37 Mackenzie Hughes 77 - 76 - 74 = 227
T46 Brett Cairns 74 - 78 - 78 = 231
Rk* team Rd1 - Rd2 Rd3 = Total
1 4 Georgia Tech 289 - 293 - 287 = 869
2 16 Duke 295 - 290 - 280 = 865
3 28 Oklahoma 296 - 292 - 287 = 875
4 10 LSU 305 - 291 - 284 = 880
5 33 Kent State 296 - 296 - 301 = 893
6 40 Virginia Tech 300 - 300 - 296 = 896
7 Coastal Carolina 299 - 300 - 299 = 898
8 21 Virginia 305 - 297 - 298 = 900
9 East Carolina 302 - 304 - 300 = 906
10 46 Mississippi 311 - 306 - 299 = 916
11 UNC Wilmington 304 - 314 - 300 = 918
12 Lamar 311 - 301 - 309 = 921
13 Yale 313 - 305 - 305 = 923