Unikel Battles For NCAA Championship Bid In Final Round

May 20, 2000

MOOSIC, Pa. - Coming off the final green on Friday at the NCAA Golf East Regional at Glenmaura National Golf Course, Keith Unikel (Potomac, Md.) could only feel that he had made improvement from a first round 76.

Friday, he shot 73 on the wind-blown and rain-soaked course, but as the second round was incomplete at darkness for the second straight day, Unikel woke up on Saturday morning still not knowing his place in the individual standings. And how much ground he ultimately needed to gain in order to qualify for next week's NCAA Championships at Grand National Country Club in Opelika, Ala.

As second round scores became official on Saturday morning, though, Unikel (76-73--149, +7) found himself in 26th place overall, up from 58th on Friday, and within just two strokes of a tie for one of just two coveted individual spots to next week's championships, awarded to the lowest-scoring individuals who are not attached to the tournament's top 11 teams.

Entering the final round on Saturday at Glenmaura, Tennessee's Derrick Centers (71-73--144, +2) was in sixth place overall and clinging to what would be the top individual spot as the Volunteers were in 13th place. Holding onto the second of two individual berths was Penn State's Mike Saporito (72-75--147), tied for 14th overall.

Trailing Centers and Saporito, however, are five individuals at 148 and Unikel is among a host of competitors at 149. Unikel must unseat either Centers or Saporito, and gain a stroke on the five ahead of him at 148.

The present leader among six unattached golfers who qualified for the regional, Unikel finished 24th at last year's NCAA East Regional held at Providence, R.I. He is joined at this week's regional by senior teammate Gary Mankulish (Laurel, Md.) who shot 84 in his second round and slipped to a tie at No. 108 (76-84--160, +18).

Final results are expected Saturday evening.