June 2, 2011
By John Painter
UT Media Relations
STILLWATER, Okla. - Tennessee fancied a better finish, but the Vols had to settle for their third straight top-25 result.
UT played directly to its seeding of 24th out of 30 teams here at the NCAA Men's Golf Championship. Eight teams now are headed for Friday's match-play quarterfinals, and once again the Vols came up short.
"While we played better over the second and third rounds, unfortunately our first round just put us too far behind," UT head coach Jim Kelson said.
Tennessee on Thursday shot 303 to tie for the 16th-best round of the day at breezy Karsten Creek Golf Club. Wednesday, the Vols also tied for the 16th best score. But it was Tuesday's start in 27th place that sealed the team's fate.
"Obviously, this was not the finish we had hoped for," Kelson said.
The Vols closed Thursday with solid rounds of 73 from Garrick Porteous, 74 from Darren Renwick and 75 by Robin Wingardh, but couldn't get that fourth wheel to stage a comeback that, realistically, was aiming only for a top-20 result by Thursday morning. Jay Vandeventer closed out the UT scoring with an 81, and Danny Keddie added 82.
"We were proud of our team's efforts this post-season and their advancement to the finals, but we expect better than 24th place," Kelson said. "Our program must become significantly better and that is 100 percent my responsibility.
"We will continue to make improvements to ensure our program stays on the path of becoming one of the elite teams in the country."
This was Tennessee's third straight trip to the NCAA finals, matching the best three-year run in school history. Kelson now has coached the Vols to 12 consecutive NCAA regionals, extending the school record, and six NCAA finals since 2003.
UCLA rallied to claim the top seed in the match-play quarterfinals, finishing the three rounds of stroke play at 872. The Bruins face eighth-place Duke (889), which tied for Thursday's best round of 5-over-par to vault four positions from 12th and claim the coveted final quarterfinal spot.
Second-place Georgia Tech (875) faces seventh-place Augusta State (888), the defending champion and in-state rival; third-place Oklahoma State (879), the host school, meets sixth-place Ohio State (887), which was seeded just ahead of Tennessee at 23rd entering the week. Illinois (879) also tied for third but lost the tie-breaker and meets fifth-place Georgia (884) in the last quarterfinal.
LSU's John Peterson (211) shot even-par 72 Thursday and held on to medalist honors by one stroke over UCLA's Patrick Cantlay (212).
Four Birdies in Last Five
Tennessee began play Thursday on the back nine and Porteous started with a pair of bogeys. In fact, the junior never was able to solve Nos. 10 and 11 - zero pars - and played the two holes in plus-6 for the week.
But he kept his score handy and was just 5 over par with five holes to play. Four birdies later, Porteous walked off with his second consecutive 73 and a closing score of 7-over 223 that lifted him 24 positions to a tie for 38th place.
"I wasn't really thinking about a target score; I just kept thinking about my pre-shot routine," Porteous said. "I had wedges into three of the holes and I put them all to within five feet, and then made the putts."
Porteous finished 143rd on the individual leaderboard his freshman year and was 51st last year at The Honors Course outside Chattanooga. He says the better finishes haven't gone unnoticed.
"It's definitely been an improvement from last year. I feel like the team also definitely progressed during the spring, so there is encouragement there.
"I'm coming up on my senior year; time to step up to the plate and, obviously, be a leader on the scoreboard and set an example."
Porteous says he plans to play in the upcoming British Amateur and European Amateur championships, and already has drafted Keddie to join him at the British Am.
One Real Adventure
Renwick already has scheduled himself for three amateur tournaments in June here in the States, and he certainly gained some momentum thanks to his play here this week. Renwick's round of 74 left him at 15-over 231 for the championship and tied for 102nd place.
"I played really well and definitely kept the doubles and triples off the card today," he said. "I've been really close to having a good round. I just tried to stay patient and wait for it to happen."
Renwick's only real adventure came on the par-5 first hole, his 10th played on Thursday. Renwick's tee shot appeared lost, so he hit a provisional ball and it, too, couldn't be located. But the original ball was finally found and the junior took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie so he could chip out with his third shot.
He then attempted to play his fourth shot onto the green from behind a tree, but hooked his 4-iron attempt toward the left woods only to have it ricochet back into play.
"Then I nearly made my chip, so I tapped in for a 6. It was a bogey when it could have been a lot worse."
Renwick carded birdies at the 11th and 18th holes against only four bogeys, definitely leaving a good taste in his mouth.
"I'm excited for my senior year and I'm excited about where my game is and where the team's going to be with everyone improving. It will be sad not having Robin back next year because he's such a big part of the team. But it's the same every year; there's always a big person you are losing from the team.
"I really want us to make it to nationals next year for a fourth time (in a row) and make it a UT record."
Career Ends With Eagle
Wingardh capped his afternoon and his UT career by posting another superb eagle on his finishing hole, just as he did to close Tuesday's round.
This time, Wingardh was playing No. 9 and had 255 yards, downwind and downhill, to the green. He hit 5-iron to about 15 feet and, from there, holed the putt for his second eagle-3 of the championship.
"I finished eagle again, so that's nice," he said. "I shot 75 today, which is not a terrible score when it's windy, but I left a lot out there. These last few weeks, I've been hitting good shots but it's been inconsistent. I don't know why, really. I guess anybody can have two bad tournaments.
"But finishing with an eagle made me feel a little better."
Wingardh closed in a tie for 74th place at 11-over 227. For the year, Wingardh led the team in scoring average (72.36) and rounds of par or better (16). His high score of the year was 78 at the NCAA regional, and four times he turned in 68s. At this year's SEC Championship, Wingardh twice shot 69 and tied for third place - part of a seven-tournament stretch in which he recorded five top-10s.
"This past year, it's gotten better and better," he said. "It's been fun and I just tried to practice hard and practice right. I made a lot of improvements in how I'm organized and how I handle myself out on the course. I improved a lot in all kinds of areas and I'm going to keep working.
"Three years (to NCAA finals) is a pretty good achievement, and hopefully they can make it to match play next year."
Wingardh says he plans to turn pro in the next few days, just as soon as he returns to his home in Sweden.
"We wish Robin Wingardh all the best as he embarks on his professional career," Kelson said of his senior captain. "Robin has been a huge part of our program over the past four years and we will miss him immensely. He will undoubtedly have a very successful career as a professional golfer."
3-for-3 at No. 18
Vandeventer wrapped up his sophomore season with an 81 Thursday and a tournament score of 16-over 232. He tied for 106th place, which is an improvement of 35 positions over last year at The Honors Course.
"I improved in a lot of different ways outside of golf since my freshman year," Vandeventer said. "And I have gotten the hang of how to actually play out here. It's about playing my own game and not worrying about outcomes, while controlling my emotions."
Thursday, Vandeventer conquered Karsten Creek's No. 17 with a birdie-3 for one of three birdies on his first nine. The sophomore had played the 17th to a combined 4 over par during the first two rounds.
For good measure, he then birdied No. 18 for the third straight day.
"That felt good," he said. "I had a good yardage (on 17) for the club and just put a really good, committed swing to it. And then on 18, I had a really good two-putt - I thought it was going in for a second. That was a really tough putt."
Vandeventer says the Vols can contend in 2012.
"Getting here is great and we battled all year. Hopefully, next year, we can learn a few things and be one of the teams at the top holding that lead."
Keddie summed up his round with one comment: "Eight to start and eight to finish."
That's right, the freshman opened his round with a quadruple bogey eight on the par-4 10th hole, and then wrapped things up with a triple bogey eight at the par-5 ninth.
"I just got a bad break to start and tried to play the rest of the round as if I had made par," said Keddie, who found the cart path on his second shot at No. 10 and went deep into the brush. "I didn't want to try and force anything, because I felt that yesterday I tried to force it a little bit when I made double on 17. I just tried to plug away and kept trying to grind it out.
"I did an all right job of it, I thought, for the next 16 holes. I birdied 17, which I had made double on both days, so that was kind of nice. And then I knocked it on 18 in two and made birdie."
Those two birdies handed Keddie a 40 for his first nine holes, or even par since his disastrous snowman to begin things. He was still only 7 over for the day when his approach to the final hole, the par-5 ninth, found think rough right of the green. He escaped, but all the way over the green into more high brush and it was 82 for the freshman to match his second worst score of the spring.
Keddie saw his string of three consecutive top-10s come to a halt. His debut NCAA Championship card shows 20-over 236 and a tie for 121st place.
Still, that didn't dampen the spirits of UT's freshman phenom, who only joined the Vols in January.
"It's probably been the best 4-5 months of my life," Keddie said. "I've been to some amazing places, and, although it's disappointing to finish like this, I'm going to be ready to come back in the fall and have another crack at it.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to build on this semester."
|2.||Georgia Tech||283-290-302--875 (+11)|
|T-3.||Oklahoma State||292-293-294--879 (+15)|
|6.||Ohio State||291-299-297--887 (+23)|
|7.||Augusta State||294-294-300--888 (+24)|
|9.||Texas A&M||289-301-300--890 (+26)|
|T-12.||Southern California||303-289-303--895 (+31)|
|T-16.||San Diego||300-304-294--898 (+34)|
|T-16.||San Diego State||295-301-302--898 (+34)|
|18.||Arizona State||303-293-303--899 (+35)|
|T-19.||Kent State||304-302-296--902 (+38)|
|26.||Kennesaw State||295-312-314--921 (+57)|
|27.||North Carolina State||310-308-304--922 (+58)|
|30.||Colorado State||307-322-308--937 (+73)|
|1.||John Peterson, LSU||74-65-72--211 (-5)|
|2.||Patrick Cantlay, UCLA||72-69-71--212 (-4)|
|T-3.||Lion Kim, Michigan||72-70-73--215 (-1)|
|T-3.||Patrick Reed, Augusta State||69-75-71--215 (-1)|
|T-3.||J.J. Spaun, San Diego State||69-75-71--215 (-1)|
|T-3.||Peter Uihlein, Oklahoma State||73-69-73--215 (-1)|
|T-38.||Garrick Porteous||77-73-73--223 (+7)|
|T-74.||Robin Wingardh||77-75-75--227 (+11)|
|T-102.||Darren Renwick||78-79-74--231 (+15)|
|T-106.||Jay Vandeventer||78-73-81--232 (+16)|
|T-121.||Danny Keddie||76-78-82--236 (+20)|