April 3, 2011
What began as a fight to hang on to an outstanding finish nearly turned into an improbable come-from-behind victory.
Tennessee stood shot-for-shot against the nation's No. 1-ranked team, Oklahoma State, before falling one stroke shy Sunday at the Insperity Augusta State Invitational in Augusta, Ga. The Cowboys needed birdies on the final two holes from their anchor player, Kevin Tway, to stave off UT's rally from a 10-stroke deficit entering Sunday's final round.
"All of a sudden, things started clicking and we were right there," Vols head coach Jim Kelson said. "It was disappointing at the end to lose by a shot, but certainly it was a critical tournament and our guys rose to the challenge and played great."
Great Result Against Great Field
Tennessee's best team result since winning the 2009 Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate couldn't have come at a more opportune time against a more impressive field.
The Vols improved their season won-lost record to 65-56-3 heading into the SEC Championship in two weeks. Now, anything better than a last-place showing on St. Simons Island, Ga., and the Vols will maintain their .500 mark required for NCAA qualification.
And the upcoming SEC field won't be any stronger than this week's contingent, which featured not only top-ranked Oklahoma State but also No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Alabama, No. 8 Illinois and No. 9 Augusta State according to the latest Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. Four other teams were ranked among the nation's top 50.
"The impressive thing for us is the margin by which we beat some of these top teams," Kelson said. "It's only one tournament, but it certainly shows our players that we can compete at a very high level."
Oklahoma State finished at 16-under 848, with Tennessee right behind at 849. Clemson (859) and Alabama (863) were a distant third and fourth, respectively.
Tway, son of 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway, claimed medalist honors at 12-under-par 204. Augusta State's Olle Bengtsson was second 209, while Tennessee's Garrick Porteous turned in his best collegiate finish with a tie for third at 6-under 210.
Four Vols Among Top 20
Robin Wingardh shot 70 for the Vols to finish eighth, while Darren Renwick added 71 and Jay Vandeventer 73 to close out the UT scoring. Danny Keddie's 75 did not aide the Tennessee cause on Sunday but the freshman still managed to tie for sixth overall.
For the weekend, Porteous was 9 under on the par-5 holes -- including birdies all three rounds at Nos. 9 and 17 -- to lead the field at Forest Hills Golf Club. The junior from Morpeth, England, also tied Keddie for tournament honors with 16 birdies.
Porteous birdied three of the four par-5s on Sunday and added one more birdie to offset his lone bogey at No. 16. The third-place result tops his previous collegiate best of 12th last year at the Schenkel Invitational.
Wingardh secured his fourth top-10 in the last six tournaments thanks to three birdies on the front nine. The rest of his scorecard showed pars except for a lone bogey at the 16th.
Renwick tallied 13 birdies for the weekend, including four Sunday against three bogeys to climb seven positions to a tie for 18th place. The junior has three top-25s in his last four tournaments after finishing the weekend at 1-over-par 217.
Vandeventer finished in a tie for 36th at 5-over-par 221 after scoring four birdies and five bogeys. The sophomore played the par-5s in 6 under par, including two birdies Sunday, to tie for ninth in that category.
Keddie held on to his second collegiate top-10 result thanks to birdies at the two closing holes. The freshman, who finished with 16 birdies to match Porteous for tournament honors, fought through six bogeys Sunday to finish at 4-under-par 212.
Season Was 'In the Balance'
Kelson says the entire squad can look back with pride at the weekend's result, despite what could have been.
"Saturday was such a huge day for us. Our season was in the balance on how we played Saturday and we played great. That put us in position to where all of a sudden (today) we had a chance to win.
"But despite a little disappointment there at the end, we now are in position to have what could be a very good year."
The Vols and the rest of the Insperity tournament field are staying in Augusta through Monday to visit the opening practice round of The Masters. Tennessee returns to practice Tuesday in anticipation of the SEC Championship, set for April 15-17 on St. Simons Island, Ga.
|1.||Oklahoma State||277-279-292--848 (-16)|
|5.||Augusta State (B)||299-285-281--865 (+1)|
|7.||Augusta State||291-291-289--871 (+7)|
|9.||Virginia Tech||300-292-290--882 (+18)|
|10.||Coastal Carolina||295-282-296--883 (+19)|
|11.||South Carolina||293-302-292--887 (+23)|
|T-12.||Georgia Southern||310-292-290--892 (+28)|
|16.||USC Aiken||304-312-297--913 (+49)|
|17.||Georgia State||313-301-300--914 (+50)|
|1.||Kevin Tway, Oklahoma State||64-69-71--204 (-12)|
|2.||Olle Bengtsson, Augusta State||75-67-67--209 (-7)|
|T-3.||Garrick Porteous, TENNESSEE||68-73-69--210 (-6)|
|T-3.||Cory Whitsett, Alabama||69-72-69--210 (-6)|
|5.||Gregor Main, UCLA||73-70-68--211 (-5)|
|T-3.||Garrick Porteous||68-73-69--210 (-6)|
|T-6.||Danny Keddie||66-71-75--212 (-4)|
|8.||Robin Wingardh||75-68-70--213 (-3)|
|T-18.||Darren Renwick||73-73-71--217 (+1)|
|T-36.||Jay Vandeventer||76-72-73--221 (+5)|