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November 22, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: GOLF

The cumulative grade-point average of the UNLV men's golf team this spring

Sophomore Seung-Su Han's scoring average in UNLV's final five tournaments of the season

In competitive golf, it can be every bit as deadly as a case of the yips.

It cost the UNLV men's golf team at least two tournament victories this season.

"It" is inconsistency and it's the reason the Rebels will be staying in Las Vegas next week instead of playing for the national championship.

For only the third time in 19 years, a Dwaine Knight-coached UNLV team failed to qualify for the NCAA finals when the Rebels finished tied for 16th at last weekend's NCAA West Regional in Tempe, Ariz.

The Rebels showed, at times, an impressive ability to post low numbers this season and an equal propensity for letting bogeys balloon into double- and triple-bogeys. In the 54-hole West Regional, UNLV posted 57 birdies and three eagles as a team but finished only 20 strokes under par.

That, Knight said, was an all-too-familiar trait of his young squad , which, at the West Regional, consisted of two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

"The underlying theme of the year was still the recurrence of not controlling the big numbers," he said. "I guess the down side of inexperience is the tendency to push and try to make great shots.

"When you see all the (low) numbers go up (on the scoreboard), then there is a tendency to push and not have the patience to know you're going to make good shots."

That was never more evident than at the West Regional, where UNLV still was in contention for a top-10 finish and a berth in the NCAA finals going into the closing holes.

"We got ourselves all the way back in it the last day," Knight said. "We were 13 under (for the round) at one time as a team and the finish was just not good. We fell all the way back to 6 under - and still only missed the playoff by five shots.

"I think we were 5 over on our scoring on the last hole - that's how much we were in it until the very end - even with all the mistakes. We knew about it, we talked about it but we never really got the control over it that we needed."

South Carolina won the West Regional with a team score of 44-under-par 820.

Unlike many past Rebels teams, this year's squad lacked one dominant player who had the ability to post low scores almost at will and serve as a calming influence on the other players. In year s past, players such as Ryan Moore, Adam Scott and Chad Campbell filled that role .

"We didn't have the defining lead man this year ... and I think that puts a little bit more pressure throughout the team," Knight said. "I think that led a little bit to our impatience."

Jarred Texter, a junior, led the Rebels with a 71.4 scoring average and six top-10 finishes , but Knight was most pleased with the emergence of sophomore Seung-Su Han this spring.

Han put together a strong final five tournaments of the season and was the Rebels' top individual at the West Regional, where he shot 8 under par and tied for 30th individually.

"At the start of the spring, he was ranked 282nd in the nation and he moved himself very quietly ... to 76th," Knight said of Han. "He has really played pretty well. He's going to help us a lot and I think Jarred will be back very strong."

Knight also hopes that sitting at home next week during the NCAA finals will give his players some motivation when they reassemble in the fall.

"Next week is going to be the longest week of their young lives," he said, "but I think that will leave a big impression on them for next year."

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