The Tennessee golf team was encouraged by its second-place finish Sunday in the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga., but the Vols think they can do better.
Tennessee shot a 6-under-par 282, finishing at 8-under 856, five shots behind No. 9 Auburn, and beat five ranked teams: No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia Tech, No. 15 Georgia, No. 16 Clemson and No. 17 LSU.
"They should be encouraged," UT coach Jim Kelson said. "They played well; they played solid. But they thought they left just enough shots out there where they could have made it a little bit closer."
The Vols have received votes but currently are just outside the Top 25 in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I College Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Tennessee was led by Garrick Porteous (71), who finished tied for third place overall at 5-under 211. Jay Vandeventer (70) finished seventh at 4-under, Danny Keddie (72) tied for 14th at 1-under and Marshall Talkington (69) tied for 25th at 3-over.
The 69 was Talkington's best score as a college player, and the seventh-place finish was a personal best for Vandeventer.
"It feels really good to be able to play so well in the final round, especially when I knew we needed it," he said. "It wasn't enough today, but it's a great way to start and I'm really happy about that."
Alabama's Justin Thomas (65) dusted the field on the final day to finish at 10-under and claim the overall individual title. Chattanooga's Benjamin Weilguni (71) finished in second place at 6-under.
"It's nice to get off to a good start because it's always really important, especially after our start last year," Kelson said.
Lady Vols Golf: Tennessee junior Erica Popson shot a 6-under 66 to tie her career- best round and take the overall lead in the season-opening Cougar Classic presented by Piggly Wiggly in Charleston, S.C.
The No. 7 Lady Vols shot a 1-over 289 and enter today's second round in sixth place, nine shots behind leader LSU. Florida is in second place at 4-under and North Carolina is alone in third at 3-under.
UT junior Sara Monberg (72) shot even par and was tied for 24th place.
Also for the Lady Vols, Chessey Thomas was tied for 47th at 3-over and AJ Newell and Kaitlyn Rohrback were tied for 59th at 4-over.