May 19, 2012
BY JOHN PAINTER
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Turns out it didn't quite matter, but Garrick Porteous' 90-degree lip-out birdie putt on the 18th green Saturday summed up Tennessee's final round here at the NCAA Stanford Regional.
The Vols posted their worst score of the week, 4-over-par 284, and failed by two strokes advancing to the NCAA Championship Finals for what would have been a fourth straight season. Tennessee finished at 3-under 837 and was overtaken on the last nine holes by Central Florida (835) for the fifth and final berth.
Junior Rick Lamb did his part for UT, shooting 66 for his third straight sub-par round. The junior lefthander tied for fourth overall with a three-day total of 10-under-par 200.
"We are proud of our team's efforts because they did a really good job following through on what we asked them to do this week," UT head coach Jim Kelson said. "That was encouraging.
"Unfortunately, most of the time in our sport it generally comes down to one or two shots for the entire year. That's just the reality. Hopefully, you have such a great team that you can play the last few holes with a little cushion. But the majority of the time that's not going to be the case."
Tennessee faltered Saturday after the turn, its four scorers playing the first five holes of the back nine to a combined 9 over par. UT regained four of those strokes over the last four holes but it wasn't enough.
"So it comes down to one or two shots, and that's what it came down to today," Kelson said. "I think it's a good lesson for a few of our players -- perhaps on practicing and putting forth that little extra effort throughout the year. Maybe that would make a difference in the end, and I think there's something to be learned there.
"The bottom line is we just weren't quite where we needed to be. That's something we are going to improve significantly next year."
California claimed the region championship, finishing at 25-under-par 815. San Diego State (821), UAB (830) and Stanford (832) joined UCF with berths in the NCAA Finals. Pepperdine's Josh Anderson (196) also advanced after winning medalist honors.
"I like this area a lot in terms of the courses and the weather, but Tennessee has been everything the coaches said it would be," Lamb said. "Everything's worked out great and I couldn't be happier with where I am."
Lamb finishes his junior season second on the team in scoring average at 73.38. This week also capped a terrific final portion of the season that saw Lamb win the Yale Spring Opener for his first collegiate victory, challenge for the SEC Championship before finishing sixth and then tie for fourth here at Stanford.
"In terms of playing, I didn't get the season off the greatest start but I finished strong," he said. "I learned a lot at the SEC tournament and used that today to keep me going. I'm pretty happy with where I am heading into summer."
Saturday's scorecard of 33-33 was keyed when Lamb went eagle-birdie at Nos. 7 and 8.
"It was the same story as the first day in that I got off to a slow start," he said. "I had a three-putt on my third hole and then missed two pretty short ones on Nos. 5 and 6. I was 1 over going into 7 and thought walking down the fairway that if I could make an eagle there, I could get on a little run.
"And that's what I did. Then I got a little bonus on 8 and made birdie there. I had a couple of close calls coming in but was able to make a few more birdies."
"I didn't really play very well today," said Porteous, who tied for 18th place at 2-under 208. "I didn't get it close or hole any putts; I didn't give myself enough chances, anyway."
Still, the native of Morpeth, England, leaves the UT squad holding nothing but fond memories.
"Today wasn't the best way to finish it off but there's nothing I can do about that," he said. "It's been a great opportunity to play at Tennessee. I definitely don't regret coming here; it's been the best thing that's ever happened to me. It's been great."
Porteous plans to complete his degree in studio art this fall while interning in the UT Athletics marketing department.
"Yeah, 73 wasn't my best; it was just a tough day out there," he said. "I missed too many fairways. To get it in at 73 -- it could have been worse to be honest with you. But it's disappointing."
Still, this season -- particularly the spring semester -- was an unqualified success for the Bristol junior. He finished third on the team with a 73.53 scoring average that was nearly a stroke-and-a-half better than last year, had four top-10 results and led the team with 13 rounds of par or better.
"I've progressed in many different parts of the game," Vandeventer said. "I'm learning each and every day, as opposed to my first couple of years when I would have a bad round and not really learn much from it. Now I've matured a little bit and it's progressing.
"I know we've got three good young players coming in and I'm looking forward to my senior year. You've got to try and make golf fun. My first two years, I didn't really make it much fun. Now I'm learning, and with next season being my senior year I definitely want to make the best of it."
"After we waited, I just got back out there and hit a couple of bad shots," he said. "I actually made up-and-downs for bogey on 10 and 11 with a couple of good putts and then managed to pull it together and finished pretty well."
Keddie's 73 was his best effort of the week. Tennessee's leading player in the fall semester struggled to retain that level in the spring, but he knows it's there and Saturday's birdie-birdie-par finish was just such an example.
"I'm going to take some time off and then get back to work," Keddie said of his immediate plans. "I've got quite a few tournaments to play and I need to try and get my confidence back and get back to how I was playing earlier in the year.
"We're losing a lot and we've got quite a few new guys coming in, but everyone's just got to step up and I look forward to the challenge."
Keddie tied for 69th place at 13-over 223.
The Farragut sophomore, who tied for 74th place at 17-over 227, takes away valuable lessons from his NCAA regional debut.
"It was my first regional and it's great to get experience," he said. "Now I've got to get better and come back stronger next year."
Rodgers didn't scratch the UT lineup this year until spring, but hard work paid off and he got the call for seven of eight spring events. Rodgers scored for the Vols in 12 of his 17 stroke-play rounds.
"It's like I've blinked and been through two years already," he said. "I want to get more consistent with my short game and keep working on my swing. I definitely played better this spring, but it's still not as good as I think I'm capable of."
|2.||San Diego State||282-265-274--821 (-19)|
|5.||Central Florida||278-279-278--835 (-5)|
|T-7.||Oregon State||287-269-283--839 (-1)|
|T-7.||San Francisco||273-281-285--839 (-1)|
|9.||Wichita State||278-285-279--842 (+2)|
|11.||San Jose State||287-280-287--854 (+14)|
|12.||UC Davis||293-280-284--857 (+17)|
|13.||Southeastern Louisiana||287-289-290--866 (+26)|
|1.||Josh Anderson, Pepperdine *||67-65-64--196 (-14)|
|2.||J.J. Spaun, San Diego State||70-63-65--198 (-12)|
|3.||Brandon Hagy, California||67-66-66--199 (-11)|
|T-4.||Rick Lamb, TENNESSEE||69-65-66--200 (-10)|
|T-4.||Michael Kim, California||67-64-69--200 (-10)|
|*Competed as individual.|
|T-4.||Rick Lamb||69-65-66--200 (-10)|
|T-18.||Garrick Porteous||70-66-72--208 (-2)|
|T-22.||Jay Vandeventer||68-68-73--209 (-1)|
|T-69.||Danny Keddie||76-74-73--223 (+13)|
|T-74.||Brandon Rodgers||73-75-79--227 (+17)|