ROCKY FACE, Ga. - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golf coach Mark Guhne noticed something different Friday morning as he drove the Mocs from their hotel in Dalton to The Farm Golf Club.
He felt a tension in the van.
Four of the five players he drove to the opening round of the Carpet Capital Collegiate were freshmen who had never played in a college tournament.
"They were nervous," Guhne said. "They were six Red Bull [energy drinks] nervous, and I could tell when we got in the van."
The nerves from four freshmen -- including redshirt freshman Wes Gosselin -- and senior Davis Bunn resulted in some errant shots early that penalized the Mocs as they tumbled down the leaderboard before noon.
UTC is tied for 13th with Tennessee in the 14-team field after the Mocs' four counting scores totaled an 18-over-par 306.
"They started out a little shaky and made some bogeys and some doubles," Guhne said. "You can make a bunch of those in a hurry out here."
Georgia Tech, the host school, took the lead Friday by shooting an 8-under 280 and finished the afternoon as the only team under par. North Carolina is second at 2 over and 10 shots back. Georgia is third at 3 over, followed by Clemson at 6 over and North Florida at 7 over.
That leaves the Mocs and the Vols 26 strokes off the lead with two rounds to play. They will be grouped together today and begin play on No. 10 at 9:20 a.m.
"With one good round we can be right back in the middle of the field and beat some good teams," Guhne said. "Asking anybody to shoot under par here is asking a lot."
Bunn managed to do that. Bunn, the only one of five veteran UTC players who made it into the lineup after a six-round qualifier, shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for fifth with Joey Garber of Georgia and Payne Denman of Middle Tennessee.
Bunn made six birdies and five bogeys in his round. He said it could have been better and admitted it could have been worse.
"It was a roller coaster," Bunn said. "I'd hit a bad one and make a bogey, then I'd turn it around and get a birdie. Under par is good, but I have to get rid of mistakes."
Bunn trails Georgia Tech junior Ollie Schniederjans by four strokes in the medalist race. Schniederjans shot a 67 by making six birdies and a bogey. He leads North Carolina's Bailey Patrick by one and Tech teammate Anders Albertson and Richy Werenski by three.
None of the other Mocs are even close to the top. Freshman Ewan Scott from Scotland shot a 77 and is 5 over. Gosselin and Stuart Thomas each shot 79.
"There was not any quit in these guys," Guhne said. "They put their head down and went after it. They all played better on their second nine, which I like."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.