The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf team is heading to an NCAA regional for the seventh straight year.
The Mocs knew they were going to the NCAA postseason even before they played in the Southern Conference tournament, based on their ranking. But winning the SoCon title gave them the league's automatic bid as they try for a second consecutive regional championship.
Monday night, the Mocs learned they were seeded eighth for the Midwest Regional, which will be played May 16-18 in Columbus, Ohio, on the Scarlet Course of the Ohio State Golf Club. The original course was designed by Alister McKenzie, and OSU alumnus Jack Nicklaus tweaked it in 2005-06, making it a staple for USGA and NCAA competitions.
"I like the draw for us because a lot of Southern teams have to go north and a lot of Western teams have to come east and Ohio State is not in our field," said UTC coach Mark Guhne, whose team is ranked No. 48 by Golfweek. "I feel that it sets up pretty well and it gives us a good shot."
The top five teams (and selected individuals not on those teams) from each of six regionals will advance to the NCAA championship tournament May 28-June 2 at Atlanta's Capital City Club--Crabapple Course.
New Mexico, Stanford, Auburn, Southern California and Missouri are the top five seeded teams in the OSU regional, followed by UNLV, Texas Tech and then UTC. Fellow SoCon competitor Georgia Southern is the No. 9 seed and will be paired with the Mocs for the opening round.
"All the regions are tough, but I like what I'm seeing," Guhne said. "The goal is always to win, any coach will tell you that. Another goal is to put three good rounds on the board that will get us through to the next level."
Last year, UTC did just that. It won the South Central Regional by one stroke over Texas A&M at Olde Stone Fort in Bowling Green, Ky. Then-senior Stephan Jaeger earned medalist honors with a 13-under 203. Current senior Steven Fox, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, tied for third with a 211.
From there, the Mocs advanced to the NCAA championship event, where they placed 18th at the Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. UTC also reached the 2009 title competition at Inverness Country Club.
"Both times that we got through, we got off to good starts," Guhne said. "You don't want to be playing catch-up. We were around the lead in '09 at Karsten Creek, and we were around the lead all of last year."