Nov. 5, 2013
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The Tennessee men's golf team wrapped up its fall season with a ninth place finish at the Gifford Collegiate at Pelican Hill.
The Volunteers finished at 27-over par 867 for the tournament after rounds of 298 and 284 on Monday. The final round 285 was enough to push the Big Orange past Oregon and narrowly missed jumping Coastal Carolina.
The bright spot for head coach Jim Kelson came in the form of a low round 66 (-4) from sophomore Chad Merzbacher. The native of Dublin, Ohio impressively sank six birdies in Tuesday's final round to catapult from 46th place to finish tied for 21st place.
"I told myself I wasn't going to give up." Merzbacher said. "I started off with a bad [first] round. I had three swings that caused me six shots that first 18 holes. I think I do a pretty good job of keeping it together when things go wrong. I just told myself to fight and that's exactly what I did. I just told myself to stay relaxed on every shot, and I did that and played well."
The final round 66 was a career best for Merzbacher. His previously low was a first round 69 at the Furman Triangular last season. Merzbacher's tournament total of 5-over 215 is the second best 54-hole finish of his career, nearly topping his career low of 210 set last month at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate.
Sophomore Michael Monroe also made the most of his west coast opportunity. The Tennessee native made his first ever start for the Volunteers, finishing tied for 41st after a final round 3-over 73.
"I thought I played well with what I had," Monroe said. "I did not have my long game with me at all this tournament but I dug deep and fought through it and scratched out some manageable scores. I putted the ball really well except for a few mishaps here and there. The course was tough but in the end it was good to be back in the spotlight playing for the school that I love. I had so much fun while I was over here. Hats off to my boy Chad [Merzbacher] on his final round as well."
Sophomore Oliver Goss was the top finisher for the Volunteers, carding a final round 71 (+1) to end the tournament tied for 18th place. Freshman Jack Smith shot 8-over par 218 to finish his four career collegiate start tied for 32nd. Senior Brandon Rodgers finished 52nd at 19-over 229 with a 7-over 77 on Tuesday.
The Alabama men's golf team held off Southern California to win the Gifford Collegiate championship. Dating back to January 1, 2013, Alabama won eleven tournaments and placed second once in twelve starts. During that streak, Alabama has won ten consecutive tournament championships.
Tennessee has now completed its fall season schedule and will break until February when the Vols travel to Florida for the SeaBest Invitational. UT swept the championships at last year's SeaBest Invitational tournament, winning both the team and individual title.
Volunteer fans can continue to keep up with the team by following @Vol_Golf on Twitter.
|TEAM SCORES (Final)|
|8.||Coastal Carolina||295-285-286--866 (+26)|
|INDIVIDUAL LEADERS (Final)|
|1.||Rico Hoey, USC||68-66-68--202 (-8)|
|2.||Anthony Paolucci, USC||68-66-69--203 (-7)|
|3.||Harry Higgs, SMU||70-71-64--205 (-5)|
|UT SCORES (Final)|
|T-18.||Oliver Goss||73-69-71--213 (+3)|
|T-21.||Chad Merzbacher||78-71-66--215 (+5)|
|T-32.||Jack Smith||73-70-75--218 (+8)|
|T-41.||Michael Monroe||76-74-73--223 (+13)|
|52.||Brandon Rodgers||76-76-77--229 (+19)|