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By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
Kent State senior men's golf star Corey Conners captured the prestigious Jones Cup Invitational title, winning in a playoff on Sunday at the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.
Conners beat Southern Methodist University commitment Austin Connelly in one extra hole, hitting his approach shot within six feet of the pin.
Both Conners and Connelly finished the 54-hole event at the top of the 90-player field tied at 2-over-par 218.
"This is a real breakthrough win for Corey," said KSU men's golf coach Herb Page. "He has won a lot of tournaments and been in the top five of some majors, but this is probably the best finish for him when you consider the quality of the field."
After shooting an even-par 72 in the first round, Conners followed with back-to-back 73s. Birdies at the 415-yard eighth hole, the 545-yard 10th and the 419-yard 11th had Conners at 1-under in Sunday's final round, but he took bogeys at the 169-yard 15th and the 480-yard final hole.
"The conditions were very tough at Sea Island, with lots of fog and wind," said Page. "But Corey kept grinding."
Fellow Kent State senior standout Taylor Pendrith finished in a tie for 26th place at 10-over after rounds of 75, 75 and 76.
"Hopefully Corey and Taylor can continue the momentum from this, because we have some high expectations for our upcoming season," said Page. "This proves again that our guys can live up to the expectations."
Conners and Pendrith are both ranked in the top 35 of the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, with Conners at No. 22 and Pendrith at No. 33. Kent State is one of just four programs in Division I college golf with two top-35 players, joining Alabama, Stanford and California.
The R&A Amateur World Ranking also has Conners and Pendrith in its top 50, with Pendrith at No. 24 and Conners at No. 41.
Kent State has a long tradition of players in the world amateur rankings, including 2003 British Open Champion Ben Curtis, who achieved the No. 1 ranking in the world in September of 2000.
The Golden Flashes open their spring season on March 3 at the Davidson Intercollegiate in Charlotte, N.C.
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