Courtesy of Kent State Sports Information
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. —
Jim Mora may very well be on his way to Riviera Country Club as we speak as playoffs is the buzz word of the day for No. 17 Kent State men’s golf. After 54-holes of stroke play at the 2012 NCAA Championship, the Golden Flashes and No. 19 Florida State are deadlocked for the eighth and final slot in the match-play bracket.
The two teams, which shot +23, 875 for the three rounds, now go head-to-head in a sudden death playoff starting at 8:00 am (PST) off hole No. 18 on Friday to determine who will move on to face No. 2 Alabama in the opening round later in the day.
“We still got a shot at it,” said Director of Golf/Head Coach Herb Page of his team's quest for a national title. “We rather already be in the match play bracket, but at least we control our own destiny. “We report to the 18th tee at 8:00 am and it is going to be exciting.”
Sophomore Corey Conners (Listowel, Ontario) finished tied for 4th in the individual standings to set a Kent State record for the highest individual showing at the NCAA Championship in school history. Conners, who carded a 2-under 69 on Thursday, surpassed the previous marked shared by Jon Mills (6th, in 2001) and John Hahn, (T-6th, 2010). He finished the tournament with a 1-over, 212 (68-75-69).
The tight leaderboard at the start of today’s round stayed that way throughout the day. Kent State sat in 10th place and one back of a three way tie for 8th when Conners stepped to the tee on No. 6 and stick his tee shot on the 199-yard hole to within five feet. The ensuing birdie was on of four on the day for the Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Year and rallied the Golden Flashes back into contention.
The Golden Flashes eventually moved one shot ahead of playing partner Liberty, but still stood one off the cut line as Florida State still had two holes to play. Kent State got the break the needed when a short putt by the Seminoles next to last man on the course slide just past the hole. The miss pulled the Golden Flashes even and set up the decisive playoff tomorrow.
“Our kids played their tails off today,” said Page. “Once again we got off to our usual slow start on No. 10, but I’m very proud of them. They came back and hung in there all day long to give us a chance.”
All five players for each team will play No. 18 with the low four scores counting. If still tied, the playoff moves to No. 10 and will continue to flip back and forth until a winner is decided.
In addition to Alabama, No. 5 UCLA, No. 1 Texas, No. 3 California, No. 10 San Diego State, No. 8 Washington and No. 7 Oregon all secured spots in the final eight.
Backing up Conners’ 69 were scores of 72, 74 and 76 from senior Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ontario), sophomore Kyle Kmiecik (Avon, Ohio) and sophomore Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ontario) to account for Kent State’s final round 7-over, 291. Junior Kevin Miller (Dover, Ohio) meanwhile added a 77.
Kmiecik completed stroke play in a tie for 37th with a 5-over, 218 (74-70-74). Hughes tied for 50th at 7-over, 220 (76-72-72). Pendrith ended at 12-over 225 (75-74-76) and Miller was 20-over with a 233 (79-77-77).
In the single elimination match-play bracket 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5. Teams are seeded in order of their stroke play finish. Match-play quarterfinals start on Friday, June 1 with the semifinals on June 2 and championship match on June 3.