May 17, 2012
BY JOHN PAINTER
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Tennessee ended Thursday right where it started, but that meant progress here on opening day of the NCAA Stanford Regional.
Eighth-seeded UT rallied for an even-par score of 280, good enough for solo seventh place with two rounds remaining. The top five squads from all six regionals being played this week advance to the NCAA Championship Finals in Los Angeles.
It took a homeward charge by the Vols to offset what had been a mostly disappointing front nine at the Stanford Golf Course. Tennessee's four scoring players covered the final three holes in 4 under par, including back-to-back closing birdies by Brandon Rodgers and a pair of dandy up-and-down par saves on No. 18 from Rick Lamb and Garrick Porteous.
"I was proud of their finish," UT head coach Jim Kelson said. "Brandon hit it to about a foot on No. 18, and then Rick and Garrick made good pars that were important to our finish.
"I was thinking even par was a pretty good score around here, especially if the wind kicks up. But they really played well coming in and overall that was a solid start. We've just got to keep getting better every day."
Jay Vandeventer birdied the opening hole and was in red figures nearly the whole day en route to a 2-under-par 68 that leaves him tied for seventh place individually. Lamb shot 2 under on the back nine to finish at 69, followed by Porteous at 70 and Rodgers at 73. Danny Keddie shot 76.
Surprising San Francisco leads the team standings through 18 holes. The 11th-seeded Dons placed all four scoring golfers in red figures and shot 7-under 273. California is next at 276, followed by host Stanford at 277. A four-way tie for fourth just in front of Tennessee is made up of UAB, Central Florida and Wichita State, all at 2-under 278.
"I rolled the ball really well," Vandeventer said. "There were a few putts where I was unsure of the breaks but I still got them close and nearly had a few more fall for me. Of course everybody always says that so I'm not going to be down at all about today."
The junior said coming into the week that his game plan was to play as if he had nothing to lose, and Thursday worked to near perfection. Vandeventer ended his round with 13 straight pars for a scorecard of 33-35--68.
"I showed no emotion and never got upset throughout the round. I had some good up-and-downs that boosted my confidence and kept me going."
"I got off to a rough start but got it together," Lamb said. "I really didn't hit my driver all that well but I scrambled. Just like on 18, I was pretty pleased with par from where I was (in the greenside bunker). I just didn't really make too many mistakes on those last 12 holes."
Lamb began his run with consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth holes. He added birdies at the par-4 11th and par-5 16th holes to complete his 36-33--69 scorecard.
"It was a little scrappy; I didn't hit my approach shots very well," Porteous said. "And when I did hit them close I wasn't seeing the line, I guess. It was playing easy today, but I've just got to come back and do the same things I'm doing."
The senior captain's scorecard read 34-36--70, which ties him for 27th place.
"I'm happy about the (par) save at the end," he added. "We've just got to keep this momentum going for Friday."
"To hit two iron shots inside a foot on the last two holes was great," the Farragut sophomore said. "I hit the ball great all day. I had a triple on No. 5 but I can chalk that up to course management, to be honest. I just tried to hit the hero shot from trouble. Other than that, I really hit the ball well."
Rodgers followed the lead of his teammates and played his final 13 holes in 1 under par, with a birdie at the par-5 seventh to go with his two at the end. Rogers' scorecard of 38-35--73 left him tied for 54th place.
Rodgers sounds like he has the perfect philosophy for the Stanford layout.
"This is a really tough driving course," he said. "But if you can keep it in play and then play the par-3s, you can shoot a good score.
"The par-3s are really important out here -- there are five and the wind swirls on all of them. Hit it in the middle of the green, make your pars and you're going to shoot a good number if you do those two things."
"I played them terribly today - hit bad shots on every one," he said. "I missed two of them in the really bad places and was plugged in another bunker. And I could have played them even worse because I made a really good up-and-down for par on No. 3 from a terrible spot there as well."
Despite it all, Keddie heads into Friday with a few good vibes. Although his score didn't count toward the team total thanks to his opening-nine 42, he gave notice with a back-nine 34 not to count him out of the rest of this tournament.
And he nearly holed out from the fairway on No. 18, his ball settling inside a foot from the cup for an easy birdie.
"I was really struggling but made a couple of good putts to steady myself," said Keddie, who is tied for 68th place. "I shot 34 on the back and I didn't even play that great. You can score on this course; you've just got to keep it in play and hit it in the right spots."
Friday's weather forecast calls sunny skies and temperatures starting in the mid-50s before reaching the low 70s by round's end. Winds will increase as the day progresses, reaching 10-15 mph toward afternoon.
Live scoring is available each day on Golfstat.com.
|1.||San Francisco||273 (-7)|
|T-4.||Central Florida||278 (-2)|
|T-4.||Wichita State||278 (-2)|
|T-8.||San Diego State||282 (+2)|
|T-10.||Oregon State||287 (+7)|
|T-10.||San Jose State||287 (+7)|
|T-10.||Southeastern Louisiana||287 (+7)|
|13.||UC Davis||293 (+13)|
|T-1.||Zachary Blair, Brigham Young *||66 (-4)|
|T-1.||Sang Yi, LSU||66 (-4)|
|T-3.||Josh Anderson, Pepperdine *||67 (-3)|
|T-3.||Louis Cohen Boyer, Wichita State||67 (-3)|
|T-3.||Brandon Hagy, California||67 (-3)|
|T-3.||Michael Kim, California||67 (-3)|
|*Competing as individual.|
|T-7.||Jay Vandeventer||68 (-2)|
|T-17.||Rick Lamb||69 (-1)|
|T-27.||Garrick Porteous||70 (E)|
|T-54.||Brandon Rodgers||73 (+3)|
|T-68.||Danny Keddie||76 (+6)|