May 12, 2009
There is nothing odd about Tennessee's chances of advancing through the round of NCAA regional golf competition that begins Thursday in Galloway, N.J.
The Vols, in fact, have made a habit recently of qualifying for the NCAA Championships in odd-numbered years -- 2003, 2005 and 2007. But to get there, Tennessee must tame the NCAA regionals and challenging Galloway National Golf Club along the South Jersey shore. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams advance to the finals.
"We are ready for this championship to begin," UT head coach Jim Kelson said. "We have a great deal of confidence in this group of young men, and we feel our team will compete very well in these NCAA regional championships."
This season marks Tennessee's 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA golf regionals, extending a school record under Kelson. Prior to Kelson's UT arrival in 1998-99, the Vols in their history owned a combined 12 NCAA appearances.
"As far as qualifying for 10 straight regionals, while some may feel this is an accomplishment, we feel this is an expectation that should be achieved every year," Kelson said. "Our goal, naturally, is to be competing for championships, not just playing in them."
The Vols were not at their competitive best during the recent SEC Championships on St. Simons Island, Ga. Two of the team's fivesome -- senior Chris Paisley and freshman Darren Renwick -- suffered from a viral infection or food poisoning that all but eliminated their effectiveness.
Tennessee finished a disappointing 11th, the team's worst showing in a tournament this season by four places.
But UT's body of work, which included three second-place finishes and two thirds, earned the Vols a No. 4 seed into the regional. For Thursday's opening round, Tennessee is paired with fifth-seeded Wake Forest and sixth-seeded Colorado State, beginning on the 10th hole.
Tennessee's lineup for this weekend is Paisley at No. 1, followed by Robin Wingardh, David Holmes, Renwick and Garrick Porteous. Of those five, only Paisley and Holmes have previous NCAA tournament experience.
Pairings for the 81-team NCAA field included 11 SEC squads -- two more than any other conference. Tennessee's regional is one of three this year sporting a 14-team lineup; the other three regionals have 13 teams each.
The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams move on to the NCAA Championships on May 26-30 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Playoffs and tie-breakers will be used, if necessary, to determine advancement to the finals.
"All the regionals look like they are pretty tough and pretty evenly matched," Kelson said. "You're just going to have to play well to advance, that's all there is to it. Playing well and eliminating the big mistakes is the key to advancing, and that's what we're headed there to do."
Joining the Vols in New Jersey are, in seeding order, Clemson, Alabama, Illinois, Wake Forest, Colorado State, Kent State, Coastal Carolina, Virginia, Penn State, Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth, Columbia (host institution) and Sacred Heart.
Other SEC teams in this year's field are Florida and Mississippi State playing in Austin, Texas; Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky in Sorrento, Fla.; Mississippi and Vanderbilt in Bowling Green, Ky.; and Arkansas and LSU in Stillwater, Okla. In-state teams joining UT and Vandy with tournament bids are Austin Peay, Chattanooga, East Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee.
Galloway National is located near the Jersey shore slightly more than two hours south of New York City. The course, designed by Tom Fazio, plays this week to a par of 71 at 7,022 yards on a heavily wooded, gently sloping bayside property. Thursday's weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-60s, with windy conditions and a 50 percent change of rain.
2009 NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S GOLF REGIONAL -- FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (Galloway, N.J.)
1st Tee, 8:30-9:10 a.m. -- Clemson, Alabama and Illinois
1st Tee, 9:20-10 a.m. -- Kent State, Coastal Carolina, Virginia
1st Tee, 10:10-10:50 a.m. -- Columbia, Sacred Heart, individual qualifiers
10th Tee, 8:50-9:30 a.m. -- TENNESSEE, Wake Forest, Colorado State
10th Tee, 9:40-10:20 a.m. -- Penn State, Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth
TENNESSEE START TIMES & THUMBNAILS -- Thursday, 10th Tee
8:50 a.m. -- No. 5 Garrick Porteous is competing in only his fourth collegiate tournament and just his second as a member of the Tennessee lineup. He owns a 74.00 stroke average for nine competitive rounds, with his best showing a tie for 26th as an individual at the Wolf Pack Classic in October. Porteous followed that with a tie for 46th at The Ridges Intercollegiate, then cracked the Vols lineup and tied for 65th at the Administaff ASU Invitational. NCAA Scorecards: First appearance.
9 a.m. -- No. 4 Darren Renwick was one of eight selections to the Freshman All-SEC squad. He caught fire after the new year, turning in three top-20s in a four-tournament span. Included was a ninth-place showing at the Arizona Invitational, helping boost his season stroke average (74.19) to rank ninth among league freshmen and 35th overall in the SEC. He fought through an illness at the recent SEC Championships to tie for 39th, shooting 77-74-74--225. NCAA Scorecards: First appearance.
9:10 a.m. -- No. 3 David Holmes carries an average of 73.53 that ranks 23rd in the SEC. He has carded eight rounds of par or better, including his final two recent scores at the Administaff ASU Invitational. A solid No. 3 in the lineup all season, Holmes' best finish this season was a tie for seventh at the Wolf Pack Classic in October. He tied for 31st at the recent SEC Championships, shooting 75-74-73--222. NCAA Scorecards: 2007 regional 84-78-78--240 (100th); 2007 finals 80-77-71--228 (156th); 2008 regional 82-74-78--234 (102nd).
9:20 a.m. -- No. 2 Robin Wingardh gained 2009 All-SEC second team recognition, and Chris Paisley and he already have been tabbed for the 2009 Palmer Cup's European side. Wingardh's 72.50 stroke average ties him for eighth in the SEC and supports his ranking of 58th nationally in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. Wingardh hasn't finished outside the top 20 since early February, six tournaments ago, and claimed his first collegiate title at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitational back in September. He led the Vols with a 16th-place individual showing at the SECs. NCAA Scorecards: First appearance.
9:30 a.m. -- No. 1 Chris Paisley was named to the 2009 All-SEC first team, and Robin Wingardh and he already have been tabbed for the 2009 Palmer Cup's European side. Paisley stands fourth in the SEC with a 72.23 stroke average and ranks 38th nationally according to Golfweek/Sagarin. He is tied with Wingardh for team honors with 14 rounds of par or better and was medalist at the Arizona Invitational, one of five top-10s this season. Golfweek's Feb. 9-13 National Player of the Week. NCAA Scorecards: 2006 regional 79-72-74--225 (59th); 2007 regional 80-72-74--226 (21st); 2007 finals 71-75-75--221 (102nd); 2008 regional 78-76-76--230 (41st).