Kittleson leads Florida State into semifinals
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – His team’s match with Texas Tech officially in the books, Florida State junior Drew Kittleson ran down the 18th fairway to celebrate with his teammates in back of the 18th green Friday at the NCAA Championship.
When he got there, he realized two things:
1.) “Man, I should have played 18 instead of ran down it. I could have made par for the course record,” said Kittleson, who was 7 under for 17 holes when he closed out his match against first-team All-American Nils Floren, 2 and 1.
Sure, it wouldn’t have officially counted, considering your typical match-play concessions, but Kittleson’s round was arguably the best of the week, and better than the four 66s in stroke-play that tied the competitive course record at the Honors Course.
Here’s how it happened:
- No. 1 (Par 4): Gap wedge to 2 feet, putt for birdie.
- No. 2 (Par 5): 4-iron to fringe, chipped to 2 feet. Birdie putt conceded.
- No. 5 (Par 4): 9-iron to 2 feet, putt for birdie.
- No. 6 (Par 5): 2-iron just short. Chip to 8 feet, putt for birdie.
- No. 9 (Par 4): Gap wedge to 5 feet, putt for birdie.
- No. 11 (Par 5): 7-iron lay-up into rough, pitch from 60 yards to 40 feet, putt for birdie.
- No. 12 (Par 4): Chunked chip from foot off the green, made bogey. “Easiest chip ever, too,” he said.
- No. 17 (Par 5): 5-iron to 25 feet, putt for eagle.
For those counting at home, Kittleson played the par 5s in 5 under, which shouldn’t be a surprise. The kid from Scottsdale, Ariz., is one of the longer hitters in college golf and is no stranger to eagles. Kittleson, the runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Amateur, has two pairs of crystal goblets from making two eagles in the same round at the Masters, including a 5-iron from 190 yards on the par-4 11th, the beginning of Amen Corner.
2.) “I’m so tired,” said Kittleson, who barely could raise his voice. “It’s nice to not leave here in the dark (today).”
Kittleson was referring to the last three days of stroke play, all long days even by college golf standards. Thursday was the longest for the Seminoles, because a Wednesday weather delay pushed tee times back to around 4 p.m.
“After the round we went straight back, straight to Chili’s, and we got to Chili’s at 9:30,” he said. “Not what we needed.”
Or was it?