ATHENS, GA – In a tournament that came down to the last few holes, the Nevada men’s golf team finished five shots out of a chance to qualify for the NCAA National Championship.
The Wolf Pack carded a 6-over par team score of 290 on the final day at the University of Georgia Golf Course to lock in at 23-over for the tournament. That score is good for seventh place in the 13-team field. With the top five teams in the regional advancing to the national championship, the Pack fell five shots behind tying No. 22 Liberty for the fifth spot, which would have put them in a sudden death playoff with the Flames.
Nevada hung right around the fifth or sixth spot for most of the final round. With just No. 17 and 18 remaining, and the Flames in the clubhouse, the Pack found itself three shots out. The team kept itself in contention though with three key birdies on No. 17. Heading into the final hole of the regional, the Pack looked to keep the momentum rolling but the difficult 18th led to three bogeys and a double bogey, sealing the final championship spot for Liberty.
The Pack still had hope for a representative at nationals though as junior Stephen Osborne put himself in a position to qualify as an individual. The top individual in the field not on a team advancing, would advance to the national championship on their own. Osborne fired an even par 71 on Wednesday to remain at 3-under for the tournament and in a tie for fourth place. Billy Tom Sargent of Western Kentucky, who was playing two holes behind Osborne, birdied his last two holes though to force a sudden death playoff with Osborne.
It was an intense playoff as both golfers made par on the first playoff hole, keeping the playoff alive. On the second hole, Osborne and Sargent tied once more by each making a bogey. It was the third playoff hole that sealed the individual spot for Sargent as he drained a 20-foot putt for par, eliminating Osborne from contention.
While Osborne was the top finishing Pack golfer in the field, behind him junior Sam Harned tied for 36th place at 8-over par. Harned shot a 2-over 73 in the final round. Sophomore Joey Vrzich fired his best round of the event with a 1-over 72 and tied for 41st. Junior Tony Gil tied for 46th at 11-over after shooting a 5-over 76 on the final day. Junior Sam Meek produced his best round of the tournament on Wednesday with a 3-over 74 and tied for 67th.
No. 16, and tournament host Georgia, won the regional at 8-under par. The Bulldogs bested No. 9 Duke by seven shots for the win. Also finishing in the top five and advancing to the national championship are No. 4 Vanderbilt and SMU.
T4. Stephen Osborne – 71-68-71=210 (-3)
T36. Sam Harned, 75-73-73=221 (+8)
T41. Joey Vrzich, 76-74-72=222 (+9)
T46. Tony Gil, 74-74-76=224 (+11)
T67. Sam Meek, 80-80-74=234 (+21)