University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Mark Guhne smiled as he walked away from the scoreboard at the Signal Mountain Invitational golf tournament.
His smile will be even bigger if the same numbers appear on a scoreboard next Saturday as his Mocs wrap up the NCAA South Central Regional in Colorado.
The five players he’ll be taking west combined to shoot 16 under par Friday at Signal Mountain Golf & Country Club, including one player who is disqualified. That would be the drop score in a college event.
“It’s good to play a tournament before one of our biggest tournaments of the year, to make sure everything is ready after the three weeks we’ve had since our last tournament,” said Chris Robb, whose 2-under 69 matched fellow UTC freshman Davis Bunn. “It’s a good deal that we have this before our regional.
“It’s good preparation.”
UTC junior Stephan Jaeger came within a shot of tying the course record. He fired an 8-under 63 by making nine birdies and the shortest three-putt of his life.
UTC sophomore Steven Fox shot a 4-under 67 and is tied for second with former Lee University golfer Brandon Cissom, Richard Spangler and Greg Johnson. Former pro Chris Schmidt is in sixth place after a 68.
Jaeger’s round almost didn’t count.
Two rain delays totaling almost two hours nearly washed out the first round of the tournament. If it suffered a third afternoon delay, officials told participants, then it would become a two-day tournament with today’s and Sunday’s rounds determining flight winners.
But horns did not sound again, and all players finished before darkness covered the course.
UTC freshman Benni Weilguni’s round did not count at all. He never heard an announcement about the resumption of play after the second delay and missed two holes before finding his group, resulting in his disqualification.
“When I finished, Coach just said I hit the ball more times than Benni,” Robb said. “I didn’t know what that meant. Turns out he only played 13 holes.
“I’m sure he’ll hear about that for a while.”
Jaeger completed his 63 before the first rain drops fell on the mountain. He shot 3 under on the front nine and 5 under on the west side of Timberlinks Drive.
“All I really want to do is keep in tournament mode,” said Jaeger, who tied for second Thursday at the State Open. “I want to stay in a competition mood, feeling good, and that was a really good number. It was my day.”
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 ...