Virginia sophomore Ben Kohles won his third individual title this season to lead the 19th-ranked Virginia men's golf team to the championship of the 2010 Cavalier Classic. It marks the seventh time in the 23-year history of the tournament Virginia has placed first at its annual home tournament.
Kohles entered Sunday's final round at Birdwood Golf Course trailing Seton Hall's Brandon Park by three shots, but fired the 36-hole tournament's lowest round, a 4-under 68, to make up the deficit and take medalist honors. Kohles finished at 4-under 140. Park, the 2010 Big East Conference Freshman of the Year, carded a 1-over 73 Sunday to finish at 2-under 142.
"It felt really good today," Kohles said. "I shot four under on the front and made a couple of good putts, so overall I was pretty happy with how I played."
"The kid just continues to amaze me," said UVa head coach Bowen Sargent. "He has improved so much since he has been here. He's a great kid and a really hard worker. He deserves all of this. Hopefully he's not done winning tournaments. He's an unbelievable talent."
The win was the third victory this season for Kohles. He opened the year with a first-place finish at the Maryland Intercollegiate and this spring won the Palmetto Intercollegiate. He becomes only the second UVa golfer to win three events in a single season. Jimmy Flippen took top honors at three tournaments during the 1991-92 season.
"I've been playing well for a while now," Kohles said. "Just being consistent is the main thing that has helped me to play well and to shoot good scores."
Only Flippen (four), Jeff Putnam (four) and Simon Cooke (five) have more career wins at UVa than Kohles. His third title ties him with current PGA Tour member Steve Marino and former Cavalier All-American Lewis Chitengwa on the Virginia career wins list.
Kohles is the first UVa player to win the Cavalier Classic since Brad Tilley won a six-hole playoff in 2006 to take medalist honors. Cooke, in 1994, is the only other Virginia golfer to win the event.
Virginia won the tournament by a whopping 20 shots after holding a six-shot lead following Saturday's opening round. The Cavaliers shot 4-under 284 Sunday to finish with a two-day total of 1-under 575. Seton Hall was second at 19-over 595. Longwood was third at 599, Liberty was fourth at 600 and NC State was fifth at 601.
"We have played really good all year but we just weren't able to get a win yet," Kohles said. "To play really well and win, with everyone having a great showing, was very cool."
It marked the eighth time in 11 tournaments this season the Cavaliers have placed in the top three. It also marks the fifth consecutive season Virginia has won at least one regular-season tournament.
"I thought it was a very good performance." Sargent said. "I thought the course was equally tough today and they went out and played very well. Everyone went out and got under par early and then held on and played solid for the entire day."
Four other Cavaliers joined Kohles in the top-10. Amory Davis and Mac McLaughlin tied for fourth overall at 1-over 145. Davis shot 72 during the final round and McLaughlin posted a 1-under 71. McLaughlin's finish was the first top-10 of his career.
Senior Kyle Stough was seventh at 146 after shooting 73 for the second consecutive day. It marked the third time in his career he recorded a top-10 finish at the Cavalier Classic. Henry Smart, playing as a non-scoring individual, was also seventh at 146. Will Collins was 12th at 148.
UVa had three other individuals in the field. Gregor Orlando was 27th at 153, Cole Willcox was 33rd at 154 and Steven Rojas was 59th at 164. Willcox provided the day's best highlight by carding a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole.
Prior to today's victory, Virginia had won the Cavalier Classic six other times. The Cavaliers won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 and placed first in 1997, 1995, 1990 and 1988.
The Cavalier Classic is Virginia's final tournament of the regular season. The NCAA will announce the regional assignments to the NCAA Championships on Monday, May 10. Virginia is looking to make its third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.