May 16, 2009
Even though the trophy slipped away, Tennessee lives to play another day after advancing through the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Northeast Regional in Galloway, N.J.
The fourth-seeded Vols shot an 11-over-par 295 Saturday and finished the tournament at 878, second by four strokes to No. 2 seed Alabama. The Crimson Tide rallied from five behind entering Saturday's round with a 2-over 286 to finish at 874.
"Alabama played very well and, while we had a bit of a cushion, we played pretty mediocre," UT head coach Jim Kelson said. "It was disappointing to get nipped by Alabama, but we advanced and that's important."
UT matched its best previous NCAA regional finish (Nashville 2005) and proceeds to the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight odd-numbered year under Kelson and 13th time in school history. The Vols played in a regional for a UT-record 10th straight season.
In addition, Tennessee's trip to the finals this year occurs on familiar ground. UT finished second back in September at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitation, held at the same Inverness Club in Toledo as the upcoming NCAA Championships (May 26-30). Robin Wingardh led the charge that week by tying for first place.
"We played well there in the fall and that's encouraging," Kelson said. "We're really excited and ready to finish up this season on a very positive note."
Knoxville's David Holmes just missed individual medalist honors Saturday after his final-round 67, a season best, moved him to even-par 213 for the tournament but one stroke behind Alabama's Hunter Hamrick, who carded his own 67 to finish at 1-under 212. The second-place finish by Holmes was a career best.
"It's probably the finest round of golf he has played since he's been here at Tennessee," Kelson said of his junior, whose three previous NCAA appearances all resulted in finishes outside the top 100. "He was just super on that back nine."
Holmes played the front side in even par, birdieing the par-5 sixth and bogeying the par-5 ninth. But that's when the fun began.
Playing one group ahead of Hamrick, Holmes birdied 10, 11, 14 and 16 to set the stage for two of the more difficult holes on the course. On the par-3 17th -- a 249-yard monster -- Holmes claimed his fifth birdie on the back nine to go to 5 under for the day. But Hamrick matched Holmes' birdie at 17 while the UT junior was bogeying the 486-yard, par-4 finishing hole. Hamrick then parred 18 to tie Holmes for the day and edge him by one stroke for the tournament.
"They both birdied a really challenging par 3 on 17," Kelson said. "Then David hit a good shot that just bounced over the green on 18 and he made bogey. But he played exceptionally well and we were thrilled for him."
Darren Renwick also claimed a career-best finish, tying for seventh at 7-over 220 after challenging for the top spot through the first two days. The freshman's final-round 77 began innocently enough, bogeys on Nos. 1 and 5 leading to a front-side 37. But momentum from consecutive birdies at 11 and 12 quickly dissipated when he tripled the 13th hole and doubled the 14th. A nice birdie at 17 again was offset by bogeys at 16 and 18.
Chris Paisley scored a final-round 76 to shoot 11-over 224 and tie for 19th -- his eighth top-20 finish in 11 tries this season. Saturday, Paisley parred the opener before bogeying five holes in succession. A birdie at the seventh halted that skid, but the senior carded only one more birdie the rest of the way (No. 14) and that was offset by two more bogeys.
Wingardh and Garrick Porteous tied for 30th at 14-over 227. Wingardh claimed the team's second-best Saturday number, a 4-over 75 that saw his lone birdie occur at the par-3 second hole. The sophomore scattered five bogeys throughout, however, and watched his streak of top-20 finishes come to an end at five. Porteous closed a solid freshman debut with an 80, carding seven bogeys and a double bogey at the 15th.
Illinois (887), Virginia (889) and Wake Forest (890) joined the two SEC participants in qualifying for the NCAA Championships from Galloway National Golf Club. Clemson's Kyle Stanley, who won in a two-hole playoff against Kent State's John Hahn, advances as the top individual not on one of the qualifying teams.
Other SEC squads in the 30-team NCAA finals field are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.The remaining 21 teams are Arizona, Arizona State, Central Florida, Chattanooga, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Oregon, San Diego, Southern California, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, UCLA and Washington.
|5.||Wake Forest||297-297-296--890 (+38)|
|6.||Colorado State||309-290-297--896 (+44)|
|8.||Kent State||312-289-305--906 (+54)|
|10.||Penn State||319-301-290--910 (+58)|
|11.||Coastal Carolina||319-303-293--915 (+63)|
|12.||Virginia Commonwealth||315-306-320--941 (+89)|
|13.||Sacred Heart||322-311-313--948 (+96)|
|1.||Hunter Hamrick, Alabama||74-71-67--212 (-1)|
|2.||David Holmes, TENNESSEE||73-73-67--213 (E)|
|t-3.||Bud Cauley, Alabama||79-67-71--217 (+4)|
|t-3.||John Hahn, Kent State||75-67-75--217 (+4)|
|t-3.||Kyle Stanley, Clemson||72-72-73--217 (+4)|
|2.||David Holmes||73-73-67--213 (E)|
|t-7.||Darren Renwick||71-72-77--220 (+7)|
|t-19.||Chris Paisley||78-70-76--224 (+11)|
|t-30.||Garrick Porteous||74-73-80--227 (+14)|
|t-30.||Robin Wingardh||80-72-75--227 (+14)|