June 3, 2010
OOLTEWAH - Tennessee kept up its Honors Course trend of playing consistently inconsistent, and thus the Vols depart this year's NCAA Men's Golf Championship with a tie for 25th place.
UT shot 7-over-par 295 here Thursday for a combined total of 20-over 884. The team's best (292) and worst (297) scores of the tournament were within shouting distance of one another, yet the Vols never reached the level of play they expected coming into this event being staged on familiar turf.
"It's just really disappointing," head coach Jim Kelson said. "It seemed like we would have some good things going and then we would give it back. And it seemed like that happened two or three times each round.
"But the bottom line is we were ranked 23rd, 24th or 25th coming into this tournament and we're going to end up around the same thing. We've just got to get better and be a consistently better team and higher-ranked team if we're going to finish higher at the end. You can talk all you want about finishing in the top eight, and I think if we had an incredible week we could have done that. But we've just got to improve our consistency and our play. That's all there is to it."
Senior David Holmes capped his Big Orange career with another outstanding performance at the NCAA finals, shooting a third-round score of 2-under 70 to post 1 under par for the championship and a tie for 24th place. Holmes actually played 19 holes Thursday but made the most of it, birdieing No. 9 after an early breakfast to complete his second round with a 73.
"I just played solid all week," he said. "I played great Wednesday; I had three bad holes and I played them 4 over. Then I got that birdie this morning that kind of kick-started my day and I played really well today. I was 3 under with three to play and I unfortunately bogeyed No. 7. That is such a hard hole.
"But I'm happy and it was fun. I have some good memories and it was a great way to go out. I didn't play as well as I wanted to this year but I didn't ever play bad. I never played bad. I know my game's there. I can say I'm better than I've ever been. Every year it's gotten better; every day it's gotten better. I'm pretty happy."
Last year, Holmes tied for 13th at the Inverness Club in Toledo. He said Thursday he plans to keep his amateur status for the summer before likely making the transition to professional golf and attempting to qualify for the Knoxville Open in August.
"He played great and had a very, very good tournament," Kelson said of his departing team captain. "He's been such a big part of our team. He was our leader and we're just going to miss him to death. I'm very, very proud of the way he played this week."
Robin Wingardh shot 73 for Tennessee on Thursday to finish his tournament at 3-over-par 219 and tied for 59th. The junior was 3 under through 11 thanks to a trio of birdies over four holes around the turn before finishing with four bogeys coming home.
"Overall, it's kind of disappointing," he said. "I didn't play as well as I wanted to. I felt like with the time I put in, I didn't really get out of it what I expected. I was decent around the greens and putted well, but my long game was just not good. My swing is inconsistent.
"Last semester was pretty good but I wasn't really happy with this semester. I feel like I'm making progress but I haven't been scoring well. I've just got to keep working and it will come sooner or later."
Garrick Porteous capped his quality postseason run with a top-50 NCAA finish despite a closing 75. The sophomore shot 2-over-par 218 for the tournament and was satisfied with his effort.
"I gave it my all and that's all you can ask. Today was all right. I got off to a similar start as yesterday; I was 2 over after four. But the par-5s, I was 3 over on them. I kind of struggled on those. But I stayed with my same game plan; I wasn't changing. Just nothing really seemed to click."
Jay Vandeventer posted his second consecutive 77 and finished at 16-over 232 in a tie for 141st place. The freshman said that although he was accustomed to The Honors Course and its surroundings, this week's event is one he can build on for the future.
"It was a great experience but it was a learning experience to say the least. I wanted to do a little better being so close to home and on a golf course I was familiar with. I putted pretty well and hit some really good shots, but I just couldn't pull through in the end. This front side gave me some problems, but I'm going to learn from it.
"I feel like my game is really improving. I haven't gotten really low, but looking back from the very beginning it has progressed quite a bit. I'm happy with that. I just have a lot of work to do."
Darren Renwick said he is looking forward to his summer back in England as a chance to rebuild his game. Thursday, the sophomore closed bogey-double bogey to shoot 79 and tie for 154th place at 22-over-par 238.
"It's disappointing. This whole semester has been disappointing for me. I haven't really played as well as I can. I'm looking forward to going home for the summer and coming back next semester and playing better. That's just how it goes. I'm not hitting it good enough off the tee right now. I'll try and figure that out over the summer."
The top seven teams are set for Friday's match-play quarterfinals, but Stanford, Arizona State and San Diego must assemble for an 8 a.m. playoff to decide the eighth seed. Those three teams tied at 4-over-par 868.
Oklahoma State is the top seed for the second year in a row after finishing at 14-under 850. Florida State (854), Georgia Tech (858), Washington (860), Oregon (861), Augusta State (863) and Texas Tech (867) round out the field. Texas Tech rallied in amazing fashion after opening Tuesday with a 302 score that saw the Red Raiders in 27th place. They were still 19th through Wednesday's play before posting the final round's best score of 8-under-par 280.
Individually, Scott Langley of Illinois fired his second consecutive 68 to finish at 10-under-par 206 to claim medalist honors over San Diego's Alex Ching (208).
Kelson said his Vols have reasons to both smile and frown after a puzzling week.
"Obviously, it was a big goal to get here. I'm proud of our efforts and the kids did a good job this year. Now, we've just got to keep getting better to jump up into that next level of teams that contend and compete.
"If you look at the field here, it's pretty much going to be the top 15 teams in the country making the top 15 or the top eight teams in the top eight -- however you want to characterize it. It's kind of hard to beat the odds. It's kind of hard to beat the stats. We're trying to be positive and we're trying to be optimistic, but the bottom line is we've got to get a little bit better.
"I think we're going to have a really good team next year. I'm excited about the kids we have coming in. We're excited about the development of our current players. There's some bright stuff and some positive stuff to look forward to.
"This is going to sting for a little while because we obviously had higher hopes than this. We could have played better than (25th place), no question. But now we start preparing for next year."
(Ed. Note -- See Wednesday's recap on UTsports.com for a complete photo gallery from the championship.)
|1.||Oklahoma State||283-284-283--850 (-14)|
|2.||Florida State||283-279-292--854 (-10)|
|3.||Georgia Tech||290-282-286--858 (-6)|
|6.||Augusta State||287-288-288--863 (-1)|
|7.||Texas Tech||302-285-280--867 (+3)|
|t-8.||Arizona State||286-292-290--868 (+4)|
|t-8.||San Diego||294-282-292--868 (+4)|
|13.||Texas A&M||285-304-282--871 (+7)|
|14.||North Florida||292-293-287--872 (+8)|
|15.||Southern California||295-290-289--874 (+10)|
|t-16.||Oregon State||295-293-287--875 (+11)|
|20.||Kent State||292-293-292--877 (+13)|
|29.||Penn State||301-298-299--898 (+34)|
|30.||Georgia Southern||297-299-309--905 (+41)|
|Three-team playoff for eighth seed Friday at 8 a.m.|
|1.||Scott Langley, Illinois||70-68-68--206 (-10)|
|t-2.||Alex Ching, San Diego||69-66-73--208 (-8)|
|t-2.||Peter Uihlein, Oklahoma State||69-68-71--208 (-8)|
|4.||Diego Velasquez, Oregon State||71-72-66--209 (-7)|
|5.||Henrik Norlander, Augusta State||68-69-73--210 (-6)|
|t-24.||David Holmes||72-73-70--215 (-1)|
|t-50.||Garrick Porteous||73-70-75--218 (+2)|
|t-59.||Robin Wingardh||74-72-73--219 (+3)|
|t-141.||Jay Vandeventer||78-77-77--232 (+16)|
|t-154.||Darren Renwick||82-77-79--238 (+22)|