Vols Fifth but Not Home Free
Garrick Porteous

May 18, 2012


PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Get ready, Vols.

Tennessee placed itself in prime position to advance through the NCAA Stanford Regional, shooting a 7-under-par 273 Friday to climb into fifth place. But that's directly on the cut line for a berth in the NCAA Championship, and Saturday's final round promises to be a shootout with only five strokes separating the teams in the third through eighth positions.

"It usually comes down to the last day and, sure enough, that's what we're faced with," UT head coach Jim Kelson said. "But that's what we work for and it ought to be a lot of fun Saturday. They're going to really enjoy it and embrace it. They're in a good frame of mind and now we just have to go out and play well."

Three Tennessee players did just that Friday, led by Rick Lamb's collegiate-record low 65. Garrick Porteous added a 66 that tied his collegiate low round, and Jay Vandeventer shot 68.

And both Lamb and Vandeventer bogeyed the last hole from inside 100 yards.

"It was a good round but it could have been really good," Kelson said. "There are going to be a lot of teams play well Saturday and it's going to take a very good round, but our players know that.

"We just need more of the same stuff we had today."

Danny Keddie added 74 to close out the Tennessee scoring, and Brandon Rodgers came home in 75.

Top-seeded California moved into first place at 14-under-par 546. Third-seeded San Diego State played alongside Tennessee on Friday and shot the round of the tournament, a 15-under 265 to improve to 13-under 547 for the week.

UAB and Stanford are tied at 552, just ahead of UT's 553. San Francisco (554), Oregon State (556) and Central Florida (557) are chasing the leaders.

Four in a Row
Lamb posted six birdies Friday, including a wicked stretch of four in a row from holes 13-16. The Vols began their day on No. 10 and Lamb's scorecard read 31-34, beating by one stroke his previous collegiate low set last year during the Pacific Invitational when Lamb was a sophomore at Santa Clara.

"I just didn't make many mistakes," he said. "Well, except for on (No.) 9. I had a sand wedge in my hand and hit probably one of the worst shots I've hit in a while. It happens."

One of the lefthander's best shots was a laser at the 197-yard, par-3 14th hole. He nearly aced it before tapping in from about 2 feet past.

Lamb improved 11 places in the individual standings to a tie for sixth at 6-under 134.

Birdie Window
Porteous matched Lamb's birdie total of six for the day and first-nine score of 31. He started his run with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, the second of which needed a little imagination.

"I got a little unlucky with the drive and stopped right between the two trees," Porteous said of the hole that features two large trees directly in the middle of the fairway. "But I had a window over one branch and under another branch and managed to get it to the front edge, and then I holed the putt."

Tennessee's senior captain has taken his leadership duties seriously this year, and would love nothing better than to be the first Vols golfer in school history to compete in four straight NCAA Championships.

"Anything can happen Saturday," he said. "It's the last day and it's all about grinding it out."

Porteous finished with a 31-35 scorecard to improve 19 places to a tie for eighth place at 4-under 136.

What a Day
Vandeventer continued bucking the Tennessee trend here at Stanford, posting for the second day in a row a better score on the traditional front nine than the back. He was 2 over for his first nine holes before turning things around with a string of five birdies over Nos. 1-7.

"What a day; I just caught fire," Vandeventer said. "I was walking up 18 and I told myself I wasn't playing badly. I knew I had the front side to make some birdies and I was able to keep calm and stick to my game plan of not getting too emotional out there.

"I got up and down on No. 1 for birdie and just caught fire with the putter."

Vandeventer's only late misstep came at the last.

"It's a little unfortunate to finish like that on No. 9 but it happens," he said of his three-putt from just off the front. "That's golf, and it will make me focus a little better."

Despite his 37-31 scorecard, the junior actually dropped one place in the individual standings to a tie for eighth at 4-under 136.

Just Like Last Year
Keddie knows a thing or two about playing under the pressure of an NCAA Finals bid on the line. At the 2011 Indiana Regional with the Vols needing their best score of the week, Keddie turned his second-round 75 into a final-day 66 to lead the charge.

Could the sophomore have another such bolt in him?

"I felt I played quite a lot better," he said of his Friday effort. "I just had a couple of shots into places where you couldn't really miss it. Those were guaranteed bogeys when I missed it there.

"If I can get off to a fast start tomorrow I'll be all right. Hopefully we can get four good scores in Saturday and everyone can go low. We did it last year so it's time to do it again."

Keddie shot 39-35 Friday and is tied for 70th place at 10-over 150.

Team Player
Rodgers said his Friday result was softened significantly by the scores his teammates posted.

"Although I struggled today, my guys are really playing well," he said. "It's nice to see them doing well and giving me a boost to play better Saturday."

The Farragut sophomore never connected off the tee, which happens to be requirement No. 1 to play well at the Stanford Golf Course.

"It was a struggle, to be honest," Rodgers said. "For the first time in a while I struggled off the tee. It was just one of those days. I was hitting the ball decently but just couldn't get it in the hole. I'm looking for better on Saturday."

Rodgers finished with a 38-37 scorecard and is tied for 66th place at 8-over 148.

Another Early Post
Tennessee's final round begins at 7:50 a.m. Pacific time on the No. 1 tee, with fourth-place UAB and sixth-place San Francisco the playing partners. San Francisco was the first-day leader at 7 under par before falling to 1 over on Friday, while UAB has been under par as a team both days.

Saturday's weather calls for another sunny day, with temperatures starting in the mid-50s and reaching the low 70s by round's end. Winds should stay below 10 mph.

Live scoring is available on Golfstat.com.

1. California 276-270--546 (-14)
2. San Diego State 282-265--547 (-13)
T-3. UAB 278-274--552 (-8)
T-3. Stanford 277-275--552 (-8)
5. TENNESSEE 280-273--553 (-7)
6. San Francisco 273-281--554 (-6)
7. Oregon State 287-269--556 (-4)
8. Central Florida 278-279--557 (-3)
9. Wichita State 278-285--563 (+3)
10. LSU 282-283--565 (+5)
11. San Jose State 287-280--567 (+7)
12. UC Davis 293-280--573 (+13)
13. Southeastern Louisiana 287-289--576 (+16)
1. Michael Kim, California 67-64--131 (-9)
T-2. Josh Anderson, Pepperdine * 67-65--132 (-8)
T-2. Zachary Blair, Brigham Young * 66-66--132 (-8)
T-4. Brandon Hagy, California 67-66--133 (-7)
T-4. J.J. Spaun, San Diego State 70-63--133 (-7)
*Competing as individual.
T-6. Rick Lamb 69-65--134 (-6)
T-8. Garrick Porteous 70-66--136 (-4)
T-8. Jay Vandeventer 68-68--136 (-4)
T-66. Brandon Rodgers 73-75--148 (+8)
T-70. Danny Keddie 76-74--150 (+10)





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