Sept. 13, 2009
Tennessee began its season in nearly perfect fashion Sunday, blitzing an elite field with a tournament record score and capturing the Carpet Capital Collegiate title in Rocky Face, Ga., for the first time in school history.
Sophomore Darren Renwick tied for medalist honors at 6 under par for the weekend, his closing 69 one of four Sunday rounds in the 60s by the Vols. UT's third-round total of 14-under-par 274 clipped the previous low round at this event by one stroke and turned a competitive tournament into a runaway.
"All of a sudden, everyone caught fire there at the end," head coach Jim Kelson said. "It was a pretty close tournament for about 15 holes Sunday and I think we had about a two-shot lead. Forty-five minutes later I was on 18 and the scoreboard showed us with a 10-shot lead."
The Vols' four scoring players were a combined 10 under par on Sunday's back nine.
"To get the season started this way and to win this tournament is really special," Kelson said. "It's a great way to start the year."
UT was one of seven teams in this year's field ranked in the Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches' preseason top 25, with the remaining five teams receiving votes.
No. 18 Tennessee finished at 13-under-par 851, a dozen strokes clear of Chattanooga's 863. The Mocs led UT by two shots heading into Sunday's final round but shot even-par 288. Eleventh-ranked Georgia Tech was third at 867, followed by Auburn (870) and No. 15 South Carolina (872) rounding out the top five.
Other ranked teams and their finishes were No. 4 Alabama (875) sixth, No. 24 Texas Tech (876) eighth, No. 19 Clemson (884) ninth and No. 3 Georgia (892) sliding to a tie for 10th after a final-round 306.
"It's such a special tournament and something our program has dearly wanted to win for the 10 years that I've been here," Kelson said. "The teams that win it know they've got a good team, and it's one you want to win either as a player or as a coach. The kids are excited and I'm really excited for them and for our staff."
Renwick's co-championship -- he shared the top spot with Texas Tech's Nils Floren -- is his first collegiate title and only the second for any Vols golfer in the 21-year history of the Carpet Capital event. UT's Mike Sposa won in 1990 and went on to capture that season's SEC individual crown.
"Darren had just a phenomenal finish," Kelson said. "He's been a model student-athlete for the University of Tennessee and we are thrilled to see him get his first collegiate win in such great fashion against such a great field.
"It was a terrific, gutsy and clutch finish."
Renwick, who began the day in sixth place, was 2 over for his first nine holes Sunday before taking command. Birdies at the 10th and 12th set the stage for a fantastic final stretch, where the Worthing, England, native birdied 15, 16 and 18 to finish with a career-low score of 210.
Robin Wingardh (211) and David Holmes (212) fired matching 68s to stay on Renwick's heels all day. The duo combined for just one Sunday bogey -- Holmes at the 14th -- and both players carded a string of eight consecutive pars en route to top six finishes.
Wingardh was 3 under on the front side and birdied the 18th hole to snap his par run on the back side. Holmes birdied the very first hole and then parred out through the turn. He played the back in 3 under thanks to birdies at 10, 12, 15 and 16.
Freshman Jay Vandeventer (230) pushed the Vols over the top in a big way Sunday thanks to his sparkling 69. The touted golfer from Bristol had scored 81-80 for his first two collegiate rounds, but closed with three birdies on each side to show Kelson and his teammates how he plans to contribute this season.
"It was super to see Jay shoot a great round after he had been struggling," Kelson said. "That was very important because the tournament was a lot closer than it appeared and we really needed that score."
Justin Walker (226) shot 77 to close out his best tournament as a Vol by nine strokes. The sophomore's roller-coaster day started with five shots lost to par through eight holes, followed by a birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle stretch from Nos. 9-12, and then five more shots dropped the rest of the way. The eagle at No. 12 was Walker's second there in as many days.
The team win is Tennessee's first in more than a season, since the Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate in January 2008. The Vols were second at last year's Carpet Capital Collegiate, one of four runner-up finishes for the 2008-09 squad.
Tennessee's next tournament is Oct. 4-5 at the Windon Memorial Golf Classic in Glencoe, Ill.
|3.||Georgia Tech||295-290-282--867 (+3)|
|5.||South Carolina||290-293-289--872 (+8)|
|t-6.||Wake Forest||298-287-290--875 (+11)|
|8.||Texas Tech||302-284-290--876 (+12)|
|t-10.||East Tennessee State||299-294-299--892 (+28)|
|t-1.||Darren Renwick, TENNESSEE||71-70-69--210 (-6)|
|t-1.||Nils Floren, Texas Tech||73-69-68--210 (-6)|
|t-3.||Robin Wingardh, TENNESSEE||72-71-68--211 (-5)|
|t-3.||Jonathan Randolph, Mississippi||68-71-72--211 (-5)|
|t-3.||Stephan Jaeger, Chattanooga||74-66-71--211 (-5)|
|t-1.||Darren Renwick||71-70-69--210 (-6)|
|t-3.||Robin Wingardh||72-71-68--211 (-5)|
|t-6.||David Holmes||71-73-68--210 (-4)|
|43.||Justin Walker||76-73-77--226 (+10)|
|50.||Jay Vandeventer||81-80-69--230 (+14)|