After finishing runner-up in the Southern Conference tournament, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golfers were on the bubble for nearly two weeks wondering whether they would be selected as an at-large entry for an NCAA regional.
The Mocs were the last at-large team picked to play.
They are on the bubble again after 36 holes of the 54-hole West Regional at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
UTC is in seventh place at 27 over par after a 12-over 292 on Friday. The top five teams and the top individual not on one of those teams advance to the NCAA championship tournament.
"This isn't new," Mocs coach Mark Guhne said Friday evening by phone. "I think it plays in our favor. We know what it feels like. I've challenged the guys before, and they stepped up."
UTC is four strokes behind North Florida and Houston, which are tied for fifth. East Tennessee State is two behind the Mocs, and Tennessee is four behind UTC heading into the final round.
"At Aiken, I told them that the season might be over [psychologically]," Guhne said. "That's the same speech they get tonight."
In that tournament in early March, UTC improved by 12 strokes from its second round to its third round -- and finished fifth.
"We've been in this position all year long," Guhne said while driving back from McDonald's, which is the only place he could find a tall cup of sweet tea in Eugene. "We've had our back against the wall so many times this season. But this time, if we don't do it, we're coming home and our season is over."
If the Mocs do not advance as a team, senior Chris Robb could advance to the NCAA championship event in Kansas as an individual. Robb shot a 2-over 72 on Friday to follow a 67 on Thursday and remains tied for second. He's tied with golfers from Stanford, which leads at 2 under, and Oregon, which is in third and ahead of South Carolina by 10 shots.
"If he can shoot low, he could get himself and the team through," Guhne said. "We really want the whole team to get through."
UTC junior Liam Johnston shot a 73 on Friday, as did freshman Ewan Scott. Senior Davis Bunn rebounded with a 74 and freshman Wes Gosselin had the drop score for UTC.
But the team moved closer a spot in the coveted top five.
"After our first day, we did what we wanted and we got closer," Guhne said. "Now we have to finish. A red number would help a couple of 72s or 73s.
"I fully believe we can do it."
Either the UTC bubble will burst or the Mocs will float on it into the national championship tournament.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP
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 ...