2005: Rebels stampede elite field
The final round at this year’s Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship had all the ingredients for a down-to-the-wire slugfest among some of the country’s top power brokers.
There was host team UNLV, which entered the event No. 18 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, leading the way with a 36-hole total of 1-under 575. Hot on the Rebels’ heels and just a shot behind were No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 14 Arizona State, with No. 3 Georgia two behind and No. 2 Georgia Tech and No. 5 Wake Forest five back.
It was one of those tournaments many thought could go down to the final putt to determine the champion in the field of 15 teams – all ranked in the top 25.
However, UNLV made sure that would not be the case. Led by a tournament-best, 8-under-par 64 from Travis Whisman, the Rebels blew away all challengers and won their first tournament since
fall 2002, finishing 15 strokes in front of Georgia.
With a final-round, 8-under 280, UNLV was the only team under par at 9-under 855. Florida, with a closing 286, moved up four spots and finished third at 872, followed by Oklahoma State (874), Arizona State (876) and Georgia Tech (877).
“For years we’ve had kind of a team motto where we’ve said the last round belongs to the Rebels,” UNLV coach Dwaine Knight said. “It’s been a while since that was the case, but it certainly was today. We received a great team effort and the guys came through and did what it takes to win.
“I felt we needed some kind of a spark this season, and what a time to get it.”
Individually, UCLA freshman Daniel Im, a first-round co-leader after opening with 66, made par on the first playoff hole to beat South Carolina freshman Mark Anderson after the two tied at
7-under 209. Im, who had trailed by three shots heading into the day, closed with a 4-under 68 for his first college title. Anderson had 71.
“After I made that double at 11 (his second hole of the day), I thought I had no chance,” said Im, whose only top-10 finish this season was an eighth at The Prestige. “But coach (O.D. Vincent) came up and told me to re-find myself and to hang in there and get it back.
“I made about a 40-footer for birdie at 12 and that really got my confidence back. To get a win here is so huge, especially because this is the strongest field we have faced. This definitely gives me a great deal of confidence. It shows me I can compete at this high level.”
UNLV’s Ryan Moore, the reigning NCAA,
U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur champion, was in the hunt, even with a double bogey at No. 9. He was tied for the lead at 7 under, but bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 to finish third at 5-under 211, one shot better than Whisman.
One of the biggest turnarounds among individuals came from Florida’s Matt Every, who opened with 77. The Gators junior came back with rounds of 67-69 and finished fifth at 3-under 213.