The coach of the No. 2 men's golf team in the country shouldn't have to do much worrying.
But it's been a sweaty palms, raspy voice kind of week for Tennessee's Jim Kelson, whose team claimed its first tournament title of the year Tuesday, winning the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions at Cherokee Country Club in West Knoxville.
A close golf tournament and newfound success will make you weak in the knees, said a glad and relieved Kelson.
"I was nervous there after the first day. ... This is sweet, no question about it. I thought it was great that the tournament was really tight, and it was bunched up and extremely competitive," Kelson said of the Vols, who rallied from seven strokes down after two rounds to post a team 1-over par 841.
Tennessee finished the final two rounds 6-under par, and won its host tourney - the 14th of its kind - for the first time since a rain-shortened event in 1992.
The Vols' tally, which gave them their first title since the Louisiana Classics in 2000, was three strokes better than Auburn and nine shots less than Toledo, which led after rounds one and two.
Kelson said he was pleased with how his fivesome handled last week's jump into the national top five.
"That's really what I'm most proud of," he said. "That could have been a situation that was pretty scary to me. I tried to downplay it. I tried to not make a big deal about it because as coaches that's what we do. But this is a pretty poised, mature group that realized, I hope, that you've got to do it every day."
Alabama's Nick Rousey shot a 10-under par 200 to win the individual title and vault Alabama to third in team competition.
Ian Parnaby was the low scorer for the Vols, coming in with a 2-under par 208 (66-71-71). The score was good enough for fifth-place tie in the individual competition.
It was a good couple of days at a tantalizing Cherokee track, said the native of Durham, England.
"I played pretty solid all week," Parnaby said. "Before the week started, you'd take 208 in a heartbeat. This course is so tricky. The greens are tough to putt around - 208's a good number for me, and most important, the team won."
Typifying the Vols' turnaround in the final 36 holes was freshman and fellow Englishman David Skinns.
Skinns, Golfweek magazine's No. 1 golfer in the nation from Lincoln, England, shot a 75 in the first round and followed the over-par round with a 66 and a 70 to finish at 211 (1-over par).
"Yeah, starting with a 75 was tough. It's the worst I've done since I've been out here," he said. "I got it together at lunch and had a good 66 after lunch, and 70 today was pretty good."
Other Vols scores include Andrew Black's 213 (76-71-66), Andrew Pratt's 215 (72-70-73) and Jimmy White's 217 (74-74-69).
Parnaby said the Vols are no longer shocked by their success after turning in consistent cards at the prestigious Carpet Capital two weeks ago and now the Tournament of Champions.
"We're never surprised to win. That's what we expect. We'll only get better from now," he said. "This will be a big confidence boost for everyone. We'll just go from here and see what happens."
Tennessee concludes its fall season this weekend in Baton Rouge, La., with the Louisiana Intercollegiate.
Vols take first in golf tournament
Published: Thu Oct 25, 2001 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 03:52 p.m.