Recent Rebel graduate and first team All-America selection eagled the final hole at sectional qualifying to earn a spot in second major championship of the year
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV men’s golfer Shintaro Ban, who recently earned his degree in economics and was named first team All-America, has earned a spot in next week’s U.S. Open.
Ban finished second among 86 golfers at sectional qualifying in Northern California, which was held at Lake Merced Golf Club and The Olympic Club near San Francisco. The top five finishers earned a spot at the second of the four major championships on the PGA Tour.
Ban finished his 36-hole day Monday at 7-under par and eagled his final hole, which guaranteed his ticket to the 118th U.S. Open Championship, held at Shinnecock HIlls Golf Club in Southampton, New York, June 14-17.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Ban said a day after qualifying. “It probably will once I get there and see all the big-time pros. This will technically be my first professional event and for it to be at a major championship is something special. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I hope to take advantage of. I need to try to treat it like it is just another tournament.
“I knew I was in contention at the end at qualifying and I hit it to two feet on the last hole. I couldn’t see where it landed because that hole is uphill and out of view, but when I saw how close it was I knew I had a great chance to advance. I was just ecstatic when I made that last putt.”
Ban closed both 18-hole rounds on Monday with a strong “Rebel finish,” playing the final four holes at Olympic 4-under par and the last three at Lake Merced 3-under.
“It is just awesome to be able to qualify for the national championship of the United States,” UNLV men’s golf head coach Dwaine Knight said. “Shintaro has been playing really well lately and had a great senior year. He finished his degree while we were at NCAA Regionals at Ohio State and has just done everything at an exceptional level. He is a tremendous player and person and he has a great future ahead of him.”
Ban was a finalist for this year’s Jack Nicklaus Award and was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award, both going to the nation’s top collegiate player. He was named the Mountain West’s Player of the Year and will be competing for the United States at the Arnold Palmer Cup in France in July. In 14 collegiate events this season, he finished 21st or better 13 times and had eight top-10s and six top-fives.
A member of the UNLV Athletics Department’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Ban won four individual titles this season, tying him for first on the seasonal victories list in the Rebel record book. He ended his collegiate career with a 21st-place showing at the NCAA Championship.
Other former Rebels who are exempt or have qualified for this year’s U.S. Open are Charley Hoffman and Adam Scott. Six spots remain in the field and will be determined after this week’s event in Memphis, Tennessee.