Tennessee competes in its final regular season tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational, joining 16 other squads at Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
UT improved two places to 14th in the latest Golf World/Nike Division I Coaches’ Poll and returns to the Peach State for the second of three straight events. The Vols tied for runner-up two weeks ago at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational in Statesboro. This year’s SEC Championships are at Sea Island on April 17-19.
Tennessee head coach Jim Kelson also is back on familiar turf. Kelson’s first head coaching position was at Augusta State from 1992-98, and this weekend’s tournament returns to Forest Hills (Par 72, 7,231 yards) after a three-year stint at Champions Retreat Golf Club in nearby Evans. Kelson took over the reins at UT in fall 1998 and tries this weekend for his 14th tournament title with the Vols.
UT has yet to break through this season but owns three second-place trophies.
Set to compete for Tennessee are Chris Paisley, Darren Renwick, David Holmes, Robin Wingardh and Garrick Porteous. Paisley finished 14th at the Schenkel, snapping a streak of three straight top-10s. The senior from Newcastle, England, leads Tennessee in stroke average (71.67), rounds of par or better (13) and top-10 finishes (five). Golfstat ranks Paisley, who won the Arizona Invitational at the start of February, no. 30 in the latest collegiate individual listings.
Renwick matched his collegiate-best round of 70 on day two at the Schenkel, leading to a tie for 14th. The Worthing, England, freshman owns three top-15s in four tournaments since the spring season began and has a season stroke average of 74.10. Renwick is the only Vol on this year’s team not to record worse than a double bogey on any hole.
Holmes saved his best for last in Statesboro, firing a 67 to vault into that 14th-place tie with his teammates. Five under par was the Knoxville junior’s lowest score since a 62 back in November 2007. For the season, Holmes is third on the squad with a 73.79 stroke average. Holmes had Tennessee’s best Administaff finish from a year ago, tying for 15th at Champions Retreat.
Wingardh stands second on the team in stroke average (72.88), rounds of par or better (nine) and top-10 finishes (two). He opened the Schenkel with a 69 and finished in a tie for 20th, his third straight top-20 effort. The sophomore from Morarp, Sweden, shared medalist honors at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitational back in September.
Porteous returns to the lineup for the first time since the fall finale at The Ridges Intercollegiate in Jonesborough. Also a freshman from England (Bamburgh Castle), Porteous has produced for the Vols when penciled into the lineup, tying for 26th at the Wolf Pack Classic in October and then rallying from an opening 82 to tie for 46th at The Ridges.
A sixth Vol, Cameron Lawrence, is entered this weekend as an individual. Lawrence has four starts to his credit this season and last competed in Arizona. Best showing for the Brentwood sophomore was an eighth-place scorecard at the Ping/Golfweek Preview in Toledo.
Tennessee won this event back in 2002, when David Skinns claimed individual honors for the Vols.
Joining UT and host Augusta State this weekend are Central Florida, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Houston, Kent State, Lamar, Minnesota, North Carolina, USC Aiken, Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Tech.