Miami leads Kent State by one after first round

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

For more than a decade the two teams have dominated golf in the Mid-American Conference.

With Miami winning from 1987-91 and in 1996, Kent State winning from 1993-95 and last year, and the two teams sharing the title in 1992, no other team has managed to crack the top spot at the MAC Championships in the last 11 tournaments.

So it is only fitting that the RedHawks and Golden Flashes find themselves once again at the top of the leaderboard in '98, with Miami holding a one-stroke lead (359-360) over Kent State after the first round of the conference tournament at Quail Hollow's Devlin/Von Hagge Course in Concord Thursday afternoon.

The University of Toledo was a distant third overnight at 375, followed by Bowling Green at 378.

"The game is on," said Kent State coach Herb Page. "This is some tremendous golf by both schools. Those are great scores."

The scores were made even more impressive considering the affect northeast Ohio's heavy rains have had on the course.

"You walk out there, the rough is knee high, it's thick, it's wet, so I am really pleased with our team," said Page. "I've watched (former Kent State star) Karl Zoller win the Ohio Open on this course, and I've played here and almost won the Ohio Open in the 80's, and I've never seen the rough this high.

"I am really happy for Rich Daugherty and Scott Porter, who both shot one-under (71). When you get that out of your five and six spots that's outstanding. Porter just plugged along all day and then birdied 17 and 18, and Rich birdied 17, so we had a real good finish."

Daugherty and Porter finished the day in a six-way tie for second place that included Greg Boyette of Akron University, Tim Rice of Toledo, and Mike Kotnik and Jeff Hunt of Bowling Green.

With the high rough placing a premium on finding the fairways, Page said early in the day that par would be an excellent score.

If par was excellent, than first-round leader Kyle Voska of Miami's 6-under 66 was beyond belief.

After making the turn in a respectable 1-under 35, the RedHawks senior caught fire midway through his final nine.

"Coming into the 12th hole I had just been getting it on (the green) and two putting all day," said Voska, the MAC leader in scoring average (71.6). "I had only made one birdie. But I put a wedge to about seven feet on 12 and made the putt for birdie, then on the next hole I made a 25-footer up the hill and that really got me started. I eagled 15 with a driver and a 3-wood to about 20 feet and made that, then finished it off with a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole. I've been playing really well coming into this tournament. I've been in this position before, so I feel pretty comfortable."

Among the Flashes chasing Voska are Todd Lancaster and Danny Sahl, who are both tied for eighth after firing even-par 72s, and Ben Curtis, who was tied for 15th after a 2-over 74. The Flashes' Jon Mills shot 77.

"It's pretty brutal out there," said Curtis, who finished seventh at last year's MAC Tournament at Quail Hollow and played in the Nike Cleveland Open last summer at the same course. "It is a lot more wet and the rough is a lot thicker than I've seen it. That makes the key to hit the ball in the fairway this weekend. Considering that, even par is pretty good for five guys. We'll just have to come out the next couple days and keep it going."

Today's second round is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. with the third round following at 12:30 p.m.

_____

Mid-American Conference Championships

(at Quail Hollow, Devlin/Von Hagge Course, par 72)

First Round

Team Standings

1. Miami, 359; 2. Kent State, 360; 3. Toledo, 375; 4. Bowling Green, 378; 5. Eastern Michigan, 381; 6. Marshall, 383; 7. Ball State, 385; 8. Ohio University, Akron, 390; 10. Northern Illinois, 392.

Individual Leaders

Kyle Voska (Mia) 35-31-66

Greg Boyette (Akr) 38-33-71

Mike Kotnik (BG) 34-37-71

Jeff Hunt (BG) 36-35-71

Rich Daugherty (KSU) 35-36-71

Scott Porter (KSU) 37-34-71

Tim Rice (Tol) 37-34-71

Todd Lancaster (KSU) 36-36-72

Danny Sahl (KSU) 36-36-72

Adam Speirs (Mia) 36-36-72

A.J. Riley (Mar) 35-38-73

Tee McCabe (Mia) 37-36-73

Ryan Lagergren (Mia) 40-33-73

Richard Elliott (Tol) 36-37-73

Brian Wilkins (Mar) 38-36-74

Otto Larson (BG) 37-37-74

Shaun Stanek (EM) 38-36-74

Ben Curtis (KSU) 36-38-74

A.T. Spires (OU) 38-36-74

KENT STATE (360) _ t2. Rich Daugherty, 35-36-71; Scott Porter, 37-34-71; t8. Todd Lancaster, 36-36-72; t15. Ben Curtis, 36-38-74; t31. Jon Mills, 39-38-77.

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