UTC men’s golf team near bottom of leaderboard at NCAA tourney

GoMocs.com Photo / Garrett Engle shot a 73 for the low score Saturday among UTC's five golfers competing at the NCAA tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf team sits 27th in a 30-school field after shooting a 20-over-par 300 on the second day of the NCAA Division I championship tournament at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Mocs get back on the course Sunday for what could be their final round.

"The course played tough, as expected, and we didn't have our best stuff today," UTC coach Blaine Woodruff said in a Mocs release. "Par is always a really good score out here. That's kind of against the nature of a golfer to 'settle for pars,' but I think our guys are seeing that with a lot of really good teams struggling out here."

Garrett Engle was UTC's low scorer Saturday with a 3-over 73, one stroke ahead of teammate John Houk. Samuel Espinosa (75), Paul Conroy (78) and Braedon Wear (79) also played the Mocs, who managed seven birdies.

Espinosa is at 7-over 147 through 36 holes and tied for 84th, the best position among UTC players. The Mocs were at 34-over 594.

Illinois is atop the team leaderboard at 2-under 558, three strokes ahead of Florida, with Georgia Tech and North Carolina tied for third at 566. Georgia Tech's Ross Steelman (69) is first individually at 7-under 133, with Adrien Dumont de Chassart (68) of Illinois and Texas A&M's Daniel Rodrigues (66) three strokes back.

After Sunday's play, only the top 15 teams and the top nine individuals not on those teams will remain to play 18 holes Monday. That round will determine the individual champion and the eight programs that remain for team match play, which starts Tuesday and wraps up Wednesday.

Three teams are tied for 13th at 16 over. UTC is four shots behind 26th-place Duke, which is one place and one stroke behind New Mexico. Texas, the 2022 national champion, is 24th at 27 over.

"We played the last three holes at 1 under," Woodruff said. "It means a lot. Even though we didn't have our best stuff, the guys kept battling and never gave up. There are a lot of good teams within range for us including the defending national champions. We have a lot to play for Sunday."

Compiled by Gene Henley. Contact him at ghenley@timesfreepress.com.