Texas tops at Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face

Texas tops at Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face

September 10th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

University of Texas golfer Brandon Stone approaches the 18th hole during the Carpet Capital Collegiate Sunday in Dalton, Ga. Stone finished the tournament in first place.

Photo by Allison Love /Times Free Press.

ROCKY FACE, Ga. -- Golfer Brandon Stone arrived on the University of Texas campus from South Africa with one simple goal -- to make the starting lineup.

Stone accomplished that goal by qualifying for the U.S. Amateur which University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Steven Fox won.

Stone will be on the team for the foreseeable future.

The freshman earned medalist honors by shooting a 12-under-par 204 through three rounds of the Carpet Capital Collegiate at the Farm Golf Club.

"The depth and quality of our team is incredible," Stone said. "I wanted to make the team, shoot three good scores and learn how different college golf is. I was trying not to be our worst score of the day."

Stone helped the reigning NCAA champion Longhorns open the 2012-13 season with a victory in what's dubbed the Masters of College golf. He topped All-American teammate Jordan Spieth and Georgia senior T.J. Mitchell by two strokes and joins the likes of Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover as Carpet Capital champions.

The Mocs, who finished seventh at 11 over, were led by sophomore Liam Johnston who tied for 11th at 2 under.

"I'm seriously excited about Brandon winning his first collegiate tournament," Texas coach John Fields said. "I've never seen it in person in 25 years of coaching. But I know one guy has done it and his initials are T.W."

Stone shot up the leaderboard and carried the Longhorns with him when he set a competitive course record on Saturday with a 9-under 63. Texas shattered the previous single-round team record by five shots with a 22 under day.

The Longhorns held off an early afternoon run by runner-up Georgia. The two schools were tied when Stone and Mitchell -- who were paired together for the final round -- had three holes to play.

"We came in with a lot of confidence, but I don't think last year was on our mind at all," Spieth said. "After a rough first day when we were 11th or something, it was unbelievable what we did over the last two days."

Almost as impressive is the fact that Fox tied for 19th at 3 over despite limited practice time since winning the U.S. Amateur. He admitted that he did not, and could not play his best golf in the Mocs' season-opener. Yet he posted three respectable rounds against arguably the toughest field of any collegiate tournament in the country.

"I have lots of stuff to work on that I didn't have time to do coming in," said Fox, who had a spotter ask for his autograph while walking down a fairway on Saturday. "It's not bad for the first tournament of the year."

Overall, UTC coach Mark Guhne said, the entire team wasn't bad. The Mocs didn't play as well as they did in 2009 when they won the Carpet Capital, but Guhne enjoyed his lunch and dessert on Sunday knowing Fox, Johnston and junior Chris Robb (4 over) had solid starts to the season.

"We know what Fox can do, and I think he did pretty well knowing it was going to be hard," Guhne said. "I felt like Chris and Liam had a lot of talent and they showed glimpses of it last year. But I was really impressed with Liam, and I think it's a sign of things to come."

Senior Alex Ratliff, who made the third start of his career, tied for 31st by shooting 75-72-75.

"He played pretty doggone good," Guhne said. "He held his own. He gutted it out."

But Stone and the Longhorns won. They deserve a tip of a cowboy's hat.

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