Story courtesy of KSU Sports Information
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. ? Validation. That is how Kent State Head Men’s Golf Coach Herb Page described his team’s performance this week at the 111th NCAA Championship. The Golden Flashes finished alone in sixth place to earn the highest finish in a program’s storied history. With a four round score of 52-over 1204 (301-297-302-304), KSU ended the tournament just 10 strokes back of national champion UCLA.
“This is something pretty special,” said Page, “It really validates what Kent State golf is all about. This is about as good as it can get.”
Freshman Brett Cairns (Courtland, Ontario) led the team to a 304 on Saturday after making five birdies in his two-over round of 74. With KSU starting off hole 10 today, Cairns had a rough start making bogey on three of his first four holes before rolling in a birdie on the par four 15th. The Second Team All-MAC honoree would bogey two more holes on the back nine before finishing off with a par on No. 18.
He then made his move after the turn with two straight birdies on No. 1 and 2. Standing at two-over on the day, Cairns recorded a double-bogey on No.3, but played the last six holes in two-under as he birdied No. 4 and No. 7. He moved up 18 spots on the field to finish tied for 43rd with a 19-over 307 (78-75-80-74).
“Hole No. 1 really got it started for me and then I fed off the momentum,” said Cairns, “I was just trying to hang in there and grind it out for the team.”
Shooting a team low nine-over 297 (80-76-76-73) senior David Markle (Shelbourne, Ontario / Centre Dufferin), finished tied for 10th overall giving him KSU second lowest individual performance in school history. Markle closed out his fantastic week and Golden Flash career with a three-over 75 this afternoon making 13 pars, including nine of the first 11 holes. After a bogey on No. 3 put him at three-over he gained a stroke back with his only birdie of the day on the par five fifth. Earning the highest finishing since current PGA Tour member Jon Mills took sixth in 2001, Markle would close out the day with pars on four of the final five holes.
“We were determined and focused all week and believed in ourselves,” said Markle, “It really hasn’t set in yet (on the team’s finish), it’s something we’ll have together forever.”
Sophomore David Ludlow (Burton, Ohio / Berkshire), and freshman John Hahn (Hudson, Ohio / Hudson), capped off the scoring for KSU with rounds of 77 and 78 respectively, while senior Tom Ballinger (Mansfield, Ohio / Mansfield) shot 81.
Ludlow became just the sixth KSU individual to finish in the top 25 as he finished tied for 23rd with a 15-over 303 (78-75-73-77). A First Team All-MAC selection, he had birdies on 13 and 1 and stood at just one over through 10 holes of play. Following a bogey on 2 and a double-bogey on four when the ball hit his club twice on a chip, he closed out the day with pars on four of the final five holes.
Hahn was plus-two after the first nine holes with his only miscue coming in the form of a double bogey on No. 14. He would run into trouble on the front nine with two straight bogeys following the turn before earning a stroke back by recording birdie on four. With the course playing tough all week, the MAC Golfer of the Year then posted three straight bogeys before back-to-back pars ended his round. Overall he tied for 33rd with a 17-over 305 (83-71-73-78).
Playing the final tournament of his collegiate career, Ballinger had 11 pars and a birdied No. 15, but was done in by a pair of triple bogeys on No 13 and No. 5. He placed tied for 73rd overall with a 29-over 317 (75-80-81-81).
“I’ve coached a long time and we’ve always had high expectations,” said Page, “This is a true testament to Kent State’s ?Excellence In Action’. I’m thankful for (KSU Athletic Director Laing Kennedy) and the administration for allowing us to compete at this level and for our guys showing that we belong here.”
Kevin Chappell of UCLA shot a two-under 286 and claimed individual medalist honors by three stokes over Indiana’s Jorge Campillo and Washington’s Nick Taylor.