Chattanooga Mocs golf team back in action

Chattanooga Mocs golf team back in action

February 21st, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

UTC golfer Steven Fox takes a shot during the 2012 Carpet Capital Collegiate golf tournament, held at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

Davis Bunn and his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golf teammates have a nickname for senior Steven Fox.

It's not very original. They certainly don't wear it out. They will use it on Twitter when the occasion arises.

But it is appropriate: "Champ."

Fox won the U.S. Amateur championship last August by beating Michael Weaver in a sudden-death playoff after being two holes down with two to play.

He earned the nickname. And he earned the accolades and invitations that came with the victory, including a USGA team event in Turkey and a spot in the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open at fabled Torrey Pines outside San Diego.

Those events are in his past.

Team events are in his immediate future.

The Mocs begin their spring season and what they hope is a march to the NCAA championship tournament when they play Friday in the Bayou City Collegiate at Redstone Country Club in Humble, Texas. They'll be playing on the course where the PGA Tour plays the Shell Houston Open.

"Team tournaments are some of the best ones," Fox said before practice at Black Creek Club on Monday. "There's a lot of camaraderie that goes on, so it's fun."

The Mocs, who are ranked No. 44 in the nation in the GolfWeek/Sagarin ratings, will have a lineup of Fox, junior Chris Robb and sophomore Liam Johnston plus juniors Bunn and Benni Weilguni, who earned their spots through a UTC qualifier.

"It feels like a year since we played, and I'm ready to get going," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "The great thing is that everybody played well in qualifying. It wouldn't have bothered me to take any of them."

There will be another qualifier when the Mocs return from Texas to see who competes in the next tournament. The top three spots are set with Fox, Robb and Johnston. The rest of the spots are up for grabs following the Houston tournament and likely open for competition for the rest of the season.

"I told them, 'After this tournament, I'm going to let you beat each other up to see who goes to the next one,'" Guhne said. "But from the start, we need Fox, Chris and Liam to do what they're capable of, and if we do that, I think we'll get off to a good start."

A solid start would be good. But a strong finish to the season is much more important. UTC will play in the Southern Conference tournament April 21-23 outside Charleston, S.C. Then comes an NCAA regional tournament -- barring a spring collapse in their ranking.

But Redstone is first.

"Everybody is starting to play well," said Robb, who earned medalist honors at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate at UTC's last tournament back in October. "I think we're going to do pretty well in this tournament and this semester."