Monday, May 10, 2004

Hall proves his mettle as Big Ten medalist


Winton Woods/St. Rita product leads OSU to title

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kevin Hall, a former Winton Woods High/St. Rita School for the Deaf golfer, knew going into Sunday's final round of the Big Ten Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., that he could choose to coast and walk away with medalist honors.

Or, he could continue his aggressive play of Saturday - when he shot 66-65 to go 11-under par on the par-71 University of Michigan course - and try to break the Big Ten Championship record (200 for 54 holes).

"My teammate Scott Anderson reminded me (Saturday) that I had to shoot 68 to break the record," Hall, an Ohio State senior, told a reporter for the Big Ten Web site. "When I hit a good shot on No. 17, I knew I had to make the putt to break it."

And he did, getting his birdie and parring No. 18 to shoot a 3-under 68 for the day and a record 199 for the 54-hole tournament.

How good was Hall? His 14-under par for the tournament beat the runner-up by 11 strokes. He was the medalist in each of the first two rounds, and was co-medalist of the final round. Only two other players in the 55-man field shot 68 in Sunday's round.

Behind Hall's stellar play, OSU beat runner-up Illinois by five strokes and broke the Big Ten Championship 54-hole record by three shots: 842 (279-279-284).

Hall, who has been deaf since suffering a bout of meningitis at age 2, said it was the best tournament golf he had ever played. It had been six years since an OSU golfer had won Big Ten medalist honors, and seven years since OSU had won a Big Ten title, but Hall never wavered in leading his team to victory despite his double bogey on the fourth hole Sunday.

He was zeroed in all weekend on the tight fairways and the tucked pins. Even his competitors knew there was no way they could beat him.

"There were times they were just laughing at how I was playing," Hall told the Big Ten Web site. "It was more like a 'How does he do it?' People who played with me had fun, and I had fun playing with them as well."

And nobody was prouder of Hall than his parents, Percy and Jackie, who had made the drive from Cincinnati. Safe to say it made a special Mother's Day for Jackie. Kevin's parents had also seen him win his first college tournament earlier this spring at Marshall.

Hall is peaking at the right time going into the NCAA Championship.

"Winning another tournament and having it being the Big Ten Championship is just awesome," said Hall, typing out his post-tournament answers to the Big Ten. "My round (Sunday) was for my team. I wanted to do well so we could win. I also wanted to play well for my parents, coaches and my friends. Words can't describe how I feel right now."

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E-mail jerardi@enquirer.com




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