Kent State men's golf team slips to seventh at NCAA Regional

Published:

Staff and wire report

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. -- Kent State's men's golf team still has a chance to advance to the program's fifth straight NCAA Championships, but it will have some work ahead of it.

The Golden Flashes dropped from third to seventh after Friday's second round at the Sugar Grove Regional on Friday, playing on a soggy Rich Harvest Farms golf course.

For the day, KSU shot a 21-over-par 309 to slip in to a seventh-place tie with Jacksonville State.

The top five teams after today's final round advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be hosted by Prairie Dunes in Kansas next week. Entering today's round, the Flashes sit 14 shots off the fifth-place cutline.

"We just didn't have anything today," said Kent State head coach Herb Page of Friday's downturn. "I thought we started a little bit flat after a rain delay of two and a half hours. But I thought we would make a little run after a couple of birdies at 11. The run never came."

The top five teams after the second round included fourth-seeded Alabama-Birmingham in first place at 7-over, No. 2 Illinois is second (9-over), No. 6 Clemson third (13-over), No. 1 California fourth (17-over) and No. 3 USC in fifth (18-over).

"Our backs are against the wall when you have good teams ahead of you like we do, but we are not going to give up," said Page. "We are capable of doing it. Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith are both capable of going out and shooting 67s tomorrow. We have some firepower at the top of the lineup, so we are going to come out as if we have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Conners and Pendrith finished Friday's round two in a 15th-place tie on the individual leaderboard at 4-over.

Conners carded the best round of the day for Kent State on the 7,151-yard private course near Chicago, shooting a 1-over 73 that included birdies at holes 7, 15 and 17.

Pendrith, who began the day tied for second place individually after a 70 on Thursday, struggled on the back nine during his second round. With a birdie at the par-5 11th hole, he moved into second place all alone as one of only two players under-par for the tournament. But after sandwiching that birdie with six consecutive bogeys and one final birdie at 18, Pendrith was forced to settle for a 78.

Fellow senior Kyle Kmiecik and freshman Josh Whalen both shot 79, while sophomore Kody Fry posted an 89.

"It was a disappointing day because really nobody played very well," said Page. "Corey hung in there after falling to 3-over on his round and brought it back. But after the rain stopped, the conditions were pretty moderate. It was cold, but there wasn't much wind and the course was soft.

"This is a team that hasn't chipped or putted well all year. That Achilles Heel showed up again. Our short games just didn't get it done. I'm not happy, but I'm also the eternal optimist. It only takes one good round. And while we are going to have to do something really special on Saturday, we are capable of doing it."

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