The Tennessee men’s golf team concluded their season with a 25th-place tie at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at the Honors Course in Chattanooga this past week.
The six-day event featured the top 30 teams from regional play, and Tennessee’s 7-over-par, three-day total of 884 failed to place among the top eight teams which advanced into match play competition to determine the national champion, a title eventually won by Augusta State.
Head coach Jim Kelson just felt his Volunteer squad never got into a rhythm on the course during their three days of competition.
"It's just really disappointing," Kelson said following Thursday’s round. "It seemed like we would have some good things going, and then we would give it back. And it seemed like that happened two or three times each round.”
On Tuesday the team collected a score of 297, 9 over par. David Holmes led the way, posting an even-par 72, which included parring the final 16 holes. His solid round put him in a tie for 36th individually. The Knoxville native was pleased with his ball-striking during the round but was upset with his short game around the green.
"I hit the ball really well," the senior captain said after his opening round. "I think I missed two or three greens all day. I just did not make any putts. I'm pretty happy with how I hit (the ball), and (it’s) eventually going to drop (in the hole).”
Heading into Wednesday’s round, the Vols were 10 strokes back of the coveted eighth-place spot in the team standings. The team began the day well, climbing all the way up to 15th on the leaderboard and within striking distance of reaching match play, but a lengthy weather delay stopped all Tennessee momentum, and the team finished the second round, part of which had to be concluded early Thursday morning, in a tie for 26th, with a 14-over-par score of 576.
"We were three- to four-under (par on the first nine holes), and that's the number we were shooting at," Kelson said following the round. "If we had played really well coming in (to the final nine holes), I thought we could finish at that number. But we didn't."
Garrick Porteous shot a team-low two-under-par 70 which placed him in 21st position heading into the third round.
The Vols entered the final round needing to shoot a season low to have any chance of advancing. A seven-over-par 295 put the team in a tie for 25th place.
Holmes again led the way with a two-under-par 70 and finished the tournament tied for 24th individually. Porteous’ three-round, 2-over-par total of 218 placed him in a tie for 50th. Robin Wingardh, who shot a 3-over-par 219, finished just behind Holmes. Jay Vandeventer and Darren Renwick shot 16 over par and 22 over par, respectively.
The season didn’t end the way Tennessee wanted it to, but this year’s team did finish third in the San Diego Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championships in consecutive years for the first time since the mid-1990s.
"The bottom line is we were ranked 23rd, 24th or 25th coming into this tournament, and we're going to end up around the same thing,” Kelson said after concluding play Thursday. “…This is going to sting for a little while because we obviously had higher hopes than this. We could have played better than (25th place), no question. But now we start preparing for next year."