KANSAS City, Mo. – Surrounded by power five schools on all sides of the leaderboard, UMKC men’s golf’s No. 46 Antoine Rozner placed his name among the nation’s best as the senior closed out his illustrious career tying for eighth in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon.
After firing rounds of 70-72-70 to make the cut and advance to Monday’s fourth and final round, Rozner wrapped up the event with his third round of 70 to finish at 2-over for the tournament.
“Before coming here this week, I knew anything inside the top-10 would be a very good performance,” Rozner said. “Being able to compete with the best in the world makes me truly believe the best is yet to come. With [UMKC Head] coach [J.W. VanDenBorn], we've done an amazing job on and off the course these last couple of month, and having such a successful postseason is very rewarding.”
The Paris, France native opened the day with three straight pars on Nos. 1-3, before picking up his first birdie of the final round on the 528-yard par-4 No. 4, his second straight round birdieing the hole.
Rozner followed with two more pars before slipping back to even on the day with a bogey on the 492-yard par-4 No. 7.
The bogey, however, would not phase the Frenchman as he answered right back with a birdie on the 349-yard par-4 No. 8, once again birdieing the hole for the second consecutive day, and a par on No. 9 to make the turn at 1-under on the day and 1-over in the event.
A bogey on the 395-yard par-4 No. 10 knocked Rozner back to even, but the UMKC senior finished the round and his career in the Blue & Gold with eight straight pars to finish the day at even-par and the 2016 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at 2-over in a tie for eighth place.
“That was some performance this week by Antoine,” UMKC Head Coach J.W. VanDenBorn said. “This golf course is such as great test and was a major setup this week. The rough is long and the greens just grew firmer and faster all week. I am really proud of the way he controlled his golf ball this week. There are no breaks on this course with this setup and he just kept his head down. It was a grind and he certainly answered the bell.”
Oregon’s No. 6 Aaron Wise was crowned the National Champion at 5-under as he defeated USC’s No. 13 Rico Hoey by two shots and Vanderbilt’s No. 12 Matthias Schwab and Arizona State’s No. 3 Jon Rahm by four shots. Texas’ No. 5 Beau Hossler finished fourth at even-par, while Georgia’s No. 7 Lee McCoy and Alabama’s No. 8 Robby Shelton tied for sixth at 1-over.
Illinois’ No. 4 Charlie Danielson tied for eighth with Rozner at 2-over and the Fighting Illini’s No. 18 Thomas Detry, the Trojan’s Justin Suh and California’s No. 26 Collin Morikawa rounded out the top-10 at 3-over.
“The plan for me now is to go home and enjoy some time with my family and friends,” Rozner concluded. “There will be a lot of international tournaments that I will play all around the world in the next few months. The British amateur, the Palmer Cup, European Team Championship, U.S. Amateur and the World Amateur will be the main events. In the fall I will head to the Web.com q-school. It has always been a dream of mine to play as a pro and being able to do it over here in the U.S. would be something amazing. I will for sure always represent the ‘Roos no matter what happens or where I go.”
Rozner became the second ‘Roo to ever appear in the NCAA Championship, joining Robert Russell, who appeared in the 1997 championship.
“I hope to leave a strong legacy at our school,” Rozner added. “UMKC deserves much better recognition nationwide. There are still too many people that don't know much about us and what we do. Now there will be more people that know. I hope my teammates will battle hard the next few years just like we did this year. I'll be watching closely.”
Rozner closes out the season with a school record scoring average of 70.49 and a school record tying four wins this season. In his career, his six wins rank second behind only Russell’s seven, while his career scoring average of 72.23 is best in UMKC history.
Overall, Rozner holds the school records for lowest round (63 at Price’s “Give ‘Em 5” Invitational on 10/23/15) and lowest tournament score (197 at Price’s “Give ‘Em 5” Invitational on 10/23-25/15).
On Sunday, Rozner was named to the PING Central All-Region Team after winning his second straight WAC Player of the Year honor earlier this season.
“Antoine has certainly put us on the map this season and this week,” VanDenBorn added. “He educated a lot of folks this week about UMKC and the quality of the golf program. His performance will impact the present and future of our program for years to come. You look up at the top of the leaderboard and see players from major conference schools and then Antoine's name is wedged in their near the top, I think it says a lot about our program and certainly says a lot about him and all he has done to get here. Our program and the players in it now and in the future owe him a great deal for raising its profile. He leaves a legacy that will be THE standard for players in our program for some time. There is no doubt he has made each one of our players better and I know he has impacted my coaching style making me a better coach. He is a special talent and has changed our program forever. I couldn't be more proud.”
* - Rankings according to Golfstat