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Published: Wednesday, 5/30/2001

New Zealand freshman leads Toledo into NCAA championships

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

John Jasinski isn't in seventh heaven, but almost.

He has been associated with the University of Toledo men's golf program for 17 years - three as a player, four as an assistant coach and the past 10 as head coach.

And Jasinski said he's never seen a better player pass through the program than Brad Heaven, a 20-year-old freshman from Auckland, New Zealand.

“Brad's going to smash all the scoring records we have at Toledo,” Jasinski said. “Not only the freshmen records, but the all-time records.”

Heaven, the Mid-American Conference's freshman of the year and a first-team All-MAC selection, is ranked 76th nationally entering today's first round of the NCAA DivisionI men's golf championships at Duke University Golf Course in Durham, N.C.

“Obviously when I'm on my game I think I can play with anybody,” Heaven said. “My form has been pretty good all spring. I'd love to finish in the top 25.”

Toledo, ranked 48th nationally by Golfweek magazine, is seeded 22nd among 30 teams competing. After two rounds of the four-day event, the field will be trimmed to 15 teams.

The Rockets finished 16th in their only other appearance in the NCAA championships in 1999, missing the cut by four strokes.

“We'd like to make the cut this time, but if we're not on top of our game we run the risk of missing it,” Jasinski said. “If we're playing solid golf I think we'll be on the bubble. And if we're playing well, I think we could get into the final 15.”

Heaven, who had spent the previous five years with New Zealand's top 15 players at the Titleist Academy, tied for fifth at the NCAA Central Regional 11 days ago in Stillwater, Okla., while helping Toledo finish 8th.

He has seven top-10 finishes in eight events this spring, with his best showing a tie for second. Heaven also has a 72.5 stroke average for 40 rounds.

“He hasn't had any real strong springboard events, but he just keeps chipping away and ending up in the top-10,” Jasinski said. “He's very good at keeping his scores around par no matter how he's playing, or where he's playing. I think he's trying to learn how to score low.”

A childhood friend of Heaven's from New Zealand, Reagan Bax, is a teaching pro at Stone Oak Country Club in Holland, where Jasinski is the head pro. Bax helped recruit Heaven for the Rockets.

“When coach Jasinski called and said he wanted me to make a recruiting visit, I got the maps out back home in New Zealand and started looking up Ohio and Toledo,” Heaven said. “I really had no idea where either one of them were.”

Jasinski watched him play one round and offered a scholarship.

“I immediately knew we were getting a real steal,” Jasinski said. “I knew Brad would be coming in at a level as a freshman like no one we'd ever had before. I knew he was a special player.”

Jasinski expects Heaven's career to continue to blossom. So does teammate Kevin Kornowa, a junior who lost his No.1 spot to Heaven in the fall and has not been able to regain it.

“Brad's a heck of a player - there's no shame in playing No. 2 behind him,” said Kornowa, from St. John's Jesuit High School. “I have struggled a little this spring, but he has helped me tremendously with my game.”

Joining Heaven and Kornowa in the lineup will be sophomores Sean McTernan and David Jones. The No.5 player will be either freshman Cale Green, junior Alan Murray or sophomore Jamie Spencer, who also is from St. John's.

“If everybody fires on all cylinders, we could really surprise some people,” Heaven said.


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