May 19, 2011
ZIONSVILLE, Ind. - If Thursday had been the first round of a single-elimination tournament, Tennessee would have survived and advanced.
The Vols didn't sport their best games on opening day of the NCAA Central-Indiana Regional here at Wolf Run Golf Club, but they also kept themselves in contention for advancement to the NCAA Championship Finals.
The top five teams move on, and Tennessee is sixth after shooting a 3-over-par 287. The Vols trail fifth-place Iowa (285) by just two strokes and fourth-place Stanford (284) by three. Also battling around the cut line for a finals berth are Florida State (291) in seventh, followed by Memphis (292) and the host-school, Indiana (293).
"It was just OK," head coach Jim Kelson said of UT's effort. "We made a few bogeys that hurt but we also made some pretty good pars that helped us hang in there at the end. Overall, it was a decent start and now we have two more days of hopefully getting better each round."
Freshman Danny Keddie led the way for Tennessee with a 2-under-par 69, with junior Garrick Porteous next at even 71. Robin Wingardh shot 73, and Jay Vandeventer matched Darren Renwick at 74 on the balanced Tennessee scorecard.
Illinois shot 7-under 277 for first-day honors, one stroke better than Alabama (278) and Michigan (278).
"It was close to being a pretty good day," Kelson said. "The teams that are leading, that was really good golf because this is a pretty good course. I felt like anything around even par would have been a pretty good score, and we were close."
Keddie Tied for Eighth
Keddie misfired on two drives all day and the resulting bogeys at Nos. 15 and 9 (Vols began play on the 10th hole) were his only blemishes.
"I think that's what you have to do around here - make a bogey on your bad hole," Keddie said. "Keep off the big numbers and you will be in good shape."
The freshman helped his cause with a pair of birdies on each side. After a red number at the 11th, his second hole, Keddie began to get into a rhythm.
"I made birdie on 16 and then had a chance on 17, had a chance on 18; I was just trying to give myself chances. I made another birdie on the first and then knocked in sort of a bonus one on the second where I holed it from 35 feet.
"I played pretty solid from there. I hit a few stray shots but still managed to keep the pars going."
Keddie carded six consecutive pars on his second nine before the closing bogey and finished the first round in a tie for eighth place.
Porteous contributed three birdies, including a brilliant effort on the difficult par-4 15th hole.
"I hit a good 3-wood and then a solid 7-iron to three feet," he said. "Then I holed the putt."
From there, the junior maintained a pretty even card. He closed the round in a tie for 18th place thanks to a spectacular par save on the ninth hole after finding the woods off the tee.
`Like a Moon-Ball'
"I had to hit a lob wedge, like a moon-ball, because there was a cliff straight up right in front of me. I was just trying to get it on the fairway, about 100 yards ahead. Then I wanted to leave myself about 10 feet for par and I obviously holed it. It was nice that it went in."
Wingardh was 3 over through six holes - uncharacteristic for the UT senior captain who owns five top-10 finishes in his last seven outings.
"I got off to a bad start," he said. "I didn't really play bad, but I had a few chips and putts where I should have gotten up-and-down. My short game was a little off at first and usually my short game is pretty good.
"I didn't really worry too much. I just kept playing and knew I was going to make some birdies."
Wingardh did just that with birdies at Nos. 17 and 18. He then played the second nine in 1 over with eight pars, including his own terrific save at the closing ninth. Just like Porteous, Wingardh found the right-side woods with his drive.
"I miscalculated the wind and the ball went to the right. But I actually got a decent lie in there and I was able to punch it out, almost all the way to the green. I hit a good chip and then had a tricky putt. It was over a little hill; the pin was on a slope. But I hit a good putt and made it.
"That saved us a shot, and you're always one shot away from something in the end."
Wingardh is tied for 27th place.
Vandeventer's day was much like Tennessee's - close. The sophomore made 13 pars, but some of those could have been even better.
"I had a few that burned the edges and a few 25-footers that just came really close to going in," Vandeventer said. "The greens are a little bumpy, but hopefully I'll hit the right bumps tomorrow.
"My main goal going into this week was to give myself a lot of opportunities with it being a tough course. I just wanted to give myself a lot of chances for birdies and I did. I had a bunch today that could have fallen, but I'm going to keep my head up. Hopefully, they will fall tomorrow."
Really Good Up-and-Downs
Vandeventer, who is tied for 35th, finished with two bogeys on each side offset by his lone birdie at the par-3 second hole. But par-saving efforts, including a pair of impressive recoveries at Nos. 14 and 4, made the difference for the Bristol native.
"I hung in there. Those were two really good up-and-downs after bad drives, where I had to punch out to 100 yards both times. It's 3 over, but it's a pretty decent start and now I know what I need to do for Friday."
Renwick also is tied for 35th place after rallying from a slow start. Tennessee's only two double bogeys for the day belonged to Renwick, and both occurred in the first four holes. But the junior rallied to play even par over his last 14.
"I stuck in there hard," he said. "It was definitely a battling round, but I kept it reasonable."
Kelson says his Vols appear to be gaining knowledge of the challenging, 7,025-yard Wolf Run layout. He also knows that while the squad didn't perform at its peak level, better days could lie ahead.
"It's an OK start, he said. "It's not the easiest course to have just one practice round (Wednesday). Hopefully, playing it for the third time on Friday will help us gain a little bit of knowledge over today's round.
Tennessee resumes play Friday at 8:20 a.m. Eastern time on the No. 1 tee, alongside Stanford and Iowa. Friday's weather forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 80 degrees, with light winds.
Live scoring is available once again on UTsports.com, via Golfstat.com.
|7.||Florida State||291 (+7)|
|T-11.||Wichita State||301 (+17)|
|T-11.||Wake Forest||301 (+17)|
|13.||Missouri-Kansas City||312 (+28)|
|14.||Sacred Heart||319 (+35)|
|T-1.||Scott Langley, Illinois||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Hunter Hamrick, Alabama||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Chris Brant, Iowa||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Bud Cauley, Alabama||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Jack Schultz, Michigan||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Matt Thompson, Michigan||68 (-3)|
|T-1.||Jack Belote, Memphis||68 (-3)|
|T-8.||Danny Keddie||69 (-2)|
|T-18.||Garrick Porteous||71 (E)|
|T-27.||Robin Wingardh||73 (+2)|
|T-35.||Darren Renwick||74 (+3)|
|T-35.||Jay Vandeventer||74 (+3)|