The Kent State golf team flew under the radar all weekend at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate.
Until the final four holes.
That’s when the Golden Flashes won the tournament.
Kent State played the last four holes at Blackthorn Club at the Ridges in seven under par Sunday to win the 14th annual tournament going away.
“It’s how you finish,” Kent State coach Herb Page said. “The fields are so good and the teams are so good, it comes down to how you can finish.”
Page’s team had four players break par in the final round to post a 10-under 278 total. Kent State finished at five-over par 869 and beat runner-up and defending champion Virginia by seven shots.
“That’s a phenomenal round today,” Page said. “I’m so proud of the way they finished.”
In the individual competition, North Carolina State’s Mark McMillen and Missouri’s Jace Long tied for medalist honors at two under par. McMillen had led the entire way after opening with a 68 but gave up the lead with a double-bogey at the par-three 16th. He shot 74 on Sunday.
Long, meanwhile, finished his 71 an hour and a half before McMillen was through. The Missouri team was already on the road when the second co-leader finished.
As per a prior agreement, McMillen and Long will share the victory since no playoff could be staged. They were the only two players to break through 54 holes.
N.C. State began the day with a three-stroke lead over Virginia. Kent State was eight shots back.
Wake Forest wound up third at 879. N.C. State fell to fourth at 882.
Kent State came to Blackthorn Club still stinging from its last tournament, the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Dublin, Ohio, where it lost seven strokes on the final hole to finish fourth.
This time, there was no such meltdown.
“We had that conversation last night,” said Kent State’s Kyle Kmiecik, who led the onslaught with a final-round 67. “We said we needed to go out and get them because we couldn’t rely on the other teams coming back to us.”
Corey Connors and Kevin Miller both shot 70 and Taylor Pendrith added a 71 for the winners. Defending individual champion Mackenzie Hughes shot 73 and was Kent State’s non-counting score.
It was the Golden Flashes’ second win of the fall. They also won the rain-shortened Inverness Intercollegiate.
East Tennessee State moved up the leaderboard a bit on Sunday, thanks to a 68 from highly touted freshman Rhys Pugh.
Pugh and senior teammate Rhys Enoch tied for 18th at five over par.
The Bucs never completely recovered from their opening-round 313, their worst ever in this tournament. But they managed to finish ninth after a three-over-par 291 finale.
“As a coach, I can see we have talent,” ETSU coach Fred Warren said. “It’s showing at times. The guys did a good job after the first day. They dug such a big hole but they really played better after that.”