If the University of Tennessee men's golf team is in a heavyweight fight this season, score the first round in favor of the Vols, said coach Jim Kelson after his team finished second in last weekend's Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga.
The Vols, rated 14th in the latest Golfweek magazine rankings, completed the tournament with an aggregate 858, beating out No. 5 Wake Forest (872), No. 7 Clemson (882), No. 9 Florida (890) and No. 8 Georgia (891
) to take the tourney's runner-up spot. No. 31 Georgia Tech (858) won the tournament.
"It's been a long time since we've beaten the likes of Georgia, Clemson and Florida," Kelson said of the weekend at the blustery, cool The Farm golf course. "It's nice to be able to get in the ring and land a punch. It's definitely a good sign."
Another good sign for Kelson's team is UT's occupation in the tournament's individual leaders.
Junior Ian Parnaby and freshman David Skinns tied for fifth overall. Parnaby, a native of Durham, England, shot 68-71-75 - 214. Skinns, who is from Lincoln, England, and was playing in his first collegiate tournament, shot 71-68-75 - 214.
It wasn't a bad start for Skinns and Parnaby, Kelson said.
"I don't think we've ever, in fact I know in the time that I've been here, that we've never had two kids finish in the top five overall," Kelson said. "I thought Ian and David did exceptionally well. For David, it was his first college event ever. For Ian
, I felt like that was a bit of a breakthrough hopefully in terms of him developing a greater confidence."
Down 10 strokes going into the final day, a tournament win might have been out of the question, Kelson said, adding that UT's finish was anything but disappointing.
"I think we handled that beautifully. We never faltered," Kelson said. "They just held on and we made a couple of bogeys on the 18th (hole). I think just to beat some of those teams and to beat them is a confidence boost and if we use it the right way, it
'll be great."
Kelson said he wants his team to remain focused on the upcoming part of the season, namely the Vols' own tournament - the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions, held Oct. 22-23 at Holston Hills Country Club.
"We need to be careful not to dwell on this too much because we have our own home tournament," he said, "and we need to be ready for those teams coming in."