AUBURN, Ala. – Kennesaw State coach Jay Moseley felt Kelby Burton was due for a strong tournament, so he moved the redshirt junior from his customary fourth slot into the No. 1 position for NCAA regionals.
His faith was rewarded Friday as Burton, who had posted just a pair of top 10s this season, birdied the last for a career-low 67 and a share of the individual lead through two rounds at the Auburn regional. At 4-under 140, he is tied with Alabama senior Cory Whitsett.
More important, though, Burton almost single-handedly kept Kennesaw State in the running for its second NCAA finals berth in the past six years (2011). No other Owls player shot better than 74 Friday, but Burton’s low score – the best round of the tournament so far, by two – thrust Kennesaw State into solo third at 12-over 588. The low five teams after Saturday’s final round advance to next week’s NCAA Championship.
“I’ve been waiting for this for four years,” Moseley said of Burton's play.
Burton was the first player that Moseley ever watched and recruited, and he’s always praised the “extremely high potential” of the Evans, Ga., native. So much so that although Burton was the Owls’ fourth-best player – his scoring average entering this week was 74.43 – Moseley had a feeling that he would “shine in the spotlight” of regional play.
Now that he has, “it’s so refreshing to see,” Moseley said.
Always a tinkerer, Burton said he recently flattened his swing and that he’s been “coming into my own a little bit.”
“I put a lot of work into it,” he said, “and it’s paying off right now.”
Just when it matters most.