ROCKY FACE, Ga. - Four of the five University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfers in the starting lineup at the Carpet Capital Collegiate tournament haven't been shaving for long.
They're just freshmen.
But they shaved a bunch Saturday at The Farm Golf Club. The Mocs shot 10 strokes better in the second round of the prestigious tournament than they did in the opening round Friday.
The Mocs shot an 8-over-par 296 with the best four scores counting toward the team total. They remain tied for 13th with Tennessee in the 14-team field. They will begin the final round, paired for a second straight day with the Volunteers, at 8:20 this morning off the No. 10 tee.
"We dug a big hole yesterday, then last night we talked about getting better every day," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "They got a little better today.
"They're starting to realize that they can play golf out here with these guys who can compete for a national championship. We'll talk about that again tonight."
Georgia Tech shot a 1-over 289 and remains in the team lead. Georgia had the best round of the day, 282, and moved into second place, four shots behind the Yellow Jackets heading into the final round.
On the meticulously manicured course with splendid 12-month-old Bermuda greens, 11 of the teams had better scores Saturday than they did Friday. South Carolina trimmed 13 shots with a veteran team.
The four UTC freshmen playing with senior Davis Bunn cut a combined 22 strokes off their combined score from Friday. Former Ringgold golfer Brooks Thomas made the biggest improvement by going from an 85 to a 75. Stuart Thomas shaved seven shots, Wes Gosselin shaved three and Ewan Scott improved by two in a matter of 24 hours.
"I couldn't be happier for our young guys," said Bunn, who shot 2 over and made six one-putts to save par, including one following a chip from one side of the fourth green to the other that took a divot -- for which he apologized and Guhne immediately repaired.
"I'm sure they're still a little disappointed," Bunn said. "To come back from what they did yesterday shows guts."
Bunn is 1 over through two rounds and 11 strokes behind individual leader Ollie Schniederjans of Georgia Tech, who has shot consecutive rounds of 5-under 67. North Carolina's Bailey Patrick is three shots back. Georgia's Michael Cromie and Joey Garber and LSU's Stewart Jolly are six back.
Bunn is the only UTC player in the top 45, but that is of little importance because the four freshmen earned their way into the lineup. They welcomed getting thrown in to the deep end by playing their first college tournament in what's knows as the Masters of college golf.
It's the improvement that's important, especially after a humbling Friday.
"I was down and thinking, 'This is not good,'" Thomas said of his first round. "I was nervous and made bad decisions and paid full price.
"I knew what I had to do. I know how to play golf. And I knew today wasn't going to be the same."
It wasn't. It was better -- for all of UTC's freshmen.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.