published Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Rocky regional for UTC

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    In this file photo, UTC's Emma de Groot practices putting at the UTC practice facility on Hickory Valley Road.
    Staff File Photo

The Mocs are going to be a mile high.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s golf team has been assigned to play in the Colorado Regional at Colorado National Golf Club on May 19-21 in Erie, Colo.

If the Mocs finish in the top five in the Rocky Mountains, they’ll compete for the NCAA championship May 31-June 5 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

“I like it because it’s a big golf course with big greens, and I think it’s pretty good for us,” UTC coach Mark Guhne said about the regional. “It’s a good course for us. Now we just have to go there and play well.”

The NCAA seeded UTC sixth in the region. Oklahoma State, host for the national championship and the No. 1 team in the country, is the top seed.

Georgia, with former Baylor School star Harris English and Sunday’s Nationwide Tour event winner Russell Henley, is seeded second in Colorado. Auburn is the third seed followed by Arizona State, Clemson, UTC and Texas Christian and North Florida.

“Oklahoma State is pretty doggone good and I think they’ll advance, but after that I think it’s a race for two through five,” Guhne said. “The last time we got through regionals [2009] we played with Oklahoma State every round, and if we can do that again, I think things will be good for us at the end of the week.”

Playing golf in Erie — which has an elevation of 5,034 feet, or 0.95 of a mile — will force every team except 11th-seeded Colorado State and 13th-seeded Denver to adjust yardages for the elevation.

Simple physics has a golf ball flying farther on every shot than it would in the Chattanooga area’s average elevation of 685 feet above sea level.

“It’s going to change some things,” Guhne said. “I’m going to get us out there as early as possible to work on distances and yardages, because that’s going to be tough. But just about everybody is going to have the same problem.”

Guhne will be taking an inexperienced team to the regional. His squad will consist of junior Stephan Jaeger, sophomore Steven Fox and freshmen Davis Bunn, Bennie Weilguni and Chris Robb. Only Jaeger and Fox have played in an NCAA regional, which the Mocs have reached the last five seasons.

“We’ve stepped up practice quite a bit since SoCon,” Guhne said. “We’re working hard on short-game wedges and putting.”

The Mocs will have little practice time between now and their departure. Jaeger, Fox and Bunn are playing in the State Open beginning today in Brentwood. And all five regional participants are slated to play in the three-day Signal Mountain Invitational this weekend.

“They’ll get a chance to get back into tournament mode and play tournament golf,” Guhne said. “Hopefully that will help us.”

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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