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The perceived drama at the final hole of the Southern Conference men's golf tournament turned out to be anticlimactic.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga won its second straight and fifth SoCon championship of the last eight years under coach Mark Guhne by eclipsing Davidson by two strokes Tuesday at the Ralston Creek Course in Daniel Island, S.C. That gave the Mocs an automatic bid into the NCAA regional field.
"We played a good tournament, but we know we can play better," Guhne said. "We kept the celebration low-key because I don't know if Davidson has ever been to the NCAA tournament. So I asked the guys to keep the celebration subdued."
So the Mocs celebrated like they've hoisted a trophy before. And they have.
But there were questions with the final group coming up the last hole as to whether they would be doing it again Tuesday.
A miscommunication or live-scoring malfunction told UTC senior Steven Fox that the Mocs were tied with Davidson with Fox, College of Charleston's Josh Lorenzettie and Davidson's Todd Eckstein still on the course.
The final hole at Ralston Creek is a par-5. Fox conferred with Guhne and assistant coach David McKenna. They agreed that Fox should go for the green in two with yardages of 245 to the pin and 220 to the front edge.
Fox smacked that shot off the back of the green and into a hazard.
"I thought we were all square," the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion said. "So I was thinking a little different. Then later I found out we had a two-shot lead."
Fox bogeyed that final hole and Lorenzettie made a par, giving him medalist honors at 1 under par and dropping Fox to a tie for second at 1 over. Fox entered the final round with a two-stroke lead on the field.
But the team race mattered more to Fox, who will play in the U.S. Open and the British Open later this summer.
"We played well, but we could have and should have won this by a lot more than two," Fox said. "It's nice to go back to back. Hopefully after we've won conference, we go do what we did last year and win regional and go to the national championship."
UTC junior Davis Bunn finished in sixth place at 4 over, fellow junior Chris Robb tied for 10th at 8 over and sophomore Liam Johnston tied for 20th. Robb and Fox earned All-SoCon honors for their play throughout the season.
"Everybody pitched in this week," Bunn said. "I three-putted 18 today, and that would have been on my mind for a long time if we would have lost or gone into a playoff. This was a full team effort instead of one guy going low and the rest of us hanging on. It's a very satisfying week."
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 ...