For the first time, the PGA University Championship (formerly Jones Cup) was hosted at Bears Best Golf Club Las Vegas. Each of the 23 PGA University accredited programs brought their rosters out to prove who’s got what it takes to be the best in show and a UNLV Rebel golfer was one who delivered. — By Luc Grenier, UNLV PGM student
Of the 23 accredited Universities, Campbell University out of North Carolina came in as the favorites from last year’s landslide victory in South Carolina. This proved only to be temporary as New Mexico State battled it out with University of Colorado, Boulder, through the 2-day team event. After an early lead at 15-over par, Colorado couldn’t outlast the charge made by NMSU, which ultimately came out victorious at 5-over par.
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As for the singles, UNLV PGA’s Chase Mitchell put up strong numbers in his first round finishing at -3. Mitchell came into day 2 and watched as NMSU’s Davis Chung shot the day’s lowest score of -4. Chung’s effort wasn’t enough to keep Mitchell from the title as he finished at -4 overall.
As a senior, this meant everything to Mitchell as it was his final chance to make his mark on a tournament in which he had the opportunity to play in several times over the course of his years as a Rebel.
“Playing in the tournament twice already has been an honor for me, but it’s being able to have the support of friends and family right here at home,” Mitchell said. “Our UNLV PGM family means the world to me and all of them sitting on the side of the 18th green waiting for me to complete my round was a moment I will never forget, especially it being my final year here.”
Mitchell also said that there were many moments on course where he felt things could turn against him at any point, but he stayed strong throughout. He also said he couldn’t have done it without the immense support of the UNLV PGA program.
Dr. Chris Cain, director of the UNLV PGA program and long time advocate for education in the PGA, felt as though this year was much more special than any other.
“This event meant a lot more than gathering each PGA University program here in the valley; it is a sign of our golf community thriving and being noticed nationwide,” Cain said. “It’s truly special to have this tournament right here in our own backyard for the first time. The greatest part for me is that students can finally go cheer on their fellow classmates, and with Chase taking home the win, it made it feel that much more memorable in the history of our program as the first winner from UNLV”.
The event itself has grown dramatically over the past year which is fitting for its first time here in Las Vegas. Students got to feel what it was like to be watched nationally as the Golf Channel was on site to broadcast the final rounds of the tournament. With the quality of golf and difficulty of the course at Bears Best, we are sure to see the PGA University Championship return to the valley over the coming years.
“The PGA University Championship is a special competition among talented PGA Golf Management students,” said PGA of America President John Lindert. “These students represent the next generation of PGA Professionals and are a big reason why the future of golf has never been brighter.”
Bear’s Best Las Vegas is made up of Jack Nicklaus’ favorite holes from courses he has designed in the Southwest and Mexico.