May 30, 2011
By John Painter
UT Media Relations
STILLWATER, Okla. - Tennessee's day starts quickly here Tuesday, as the Vols tee off for their opening round of the NCAA Men's Golf Championship at 7:50 a.m. Central time.
UT joined the 30-team field for a lengthy practice session Monday at Karsten Creek Golf Club, and the Vols came away with nothing but positive words for the 7,416-yard layout.
"The course is great," Darren Renwick said. "The greens look like they are going to be very fast and pretty undulating. So as it is with most tournaments, it will be just about making some good decisions all day."
Sophomore Jay Vandeventer is the only Vols player with previous Karsten Creek experience, from the Ping Invitational during his junior year of high school.
"It's the same type of course that it was when I played," Vandeventer said. "I found the fairway quite a bit today, which helped a lot. The rough doesn't look penalizing, but it is. The grass is sitting up and the ball goes straight down.
"My main goal this week is just getting it in the fairways and giving myself every chance I can."
Senior captain Robin Wingardh said his initial impression is that this should be a favorable layout for the Vols.
"I've never been here and I heard it was a really tough course, but it was a little wider than I expected. It's still tough; it plays really long and fast. But it's in great condition and I think it's a great course for us.
"I love the course. It was fun to play and it fit my game pretty well. I think we're going to have a good week."
Sunday Visit to Oak Tree
Tennessee began its stay in Oklahoma on Sunday playing 18 holes at the site of the 1988 PGA Championship, Oak Tree National in nearby Edmond. That makes two PGA Championship courses serving as pre-tournament practice sites for the Vols in as many weeks after the team played Crooked Stick Golf Club two days before the NCAA Central-Indiana Regional.
"It's been great," Wingardh said. "Crooked Stick was unbelievable, Wolf Run was good, Oak Tree was unbelievable, and this one here is an awesome course. It's in such good condition and it's a pleasure to be out there."
Monday's round was a battle with the Oklahoma prairie winds gusting to more than 30 mph, something UT's five-man contingent has fortunately dealt with in the past.
"A lot of our big tournaments are on links courses, so you're out near the sea," said freshman Danny Keddie, who hails from Lincoln, England, near the North Sea. "Here there are a lot of trees and that makes it harder to judge the wind. You've got to commit to your shots and know the wind's definitely there."
Tuesday's forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms and a high of 88 degrees. Winds should be much less of a factor at only 7 mph.
Tennessee's playing partners the first two days are from Ohio State and Arizona State. UT junior Garrick Porteous says the camaraderie between the golfers makes the week that much more fun.
"I think so. You're playing with the same guys you compete against week-in and week-out. Obviously, there's a bigger trophy at the end of it, but you've just got to take the day as it comes."
Live scoring is available each day on UTsports.com, via Golfstat.com.