The Tennessee men’s golf team had its best day when it needed it most in the final round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at University Club Golf Club on Saturday.
Starting the day in seventh and needing to move into the top five to qualify for the NCAA championships in Atlanta (May 27-June 2), the Vols shot even-par 288, the second-best team total of the day and its best total of the event by 12 shots, to finish in fourth place at 28-over 892.
“We’re just so proud of our team. This was a superb team effort,” coach Jim Kelson said. “We didn’t start out great, but we came back and finished strong. We’ve been through a lot of adversity lately and I thought this team deserved to make it to the national championship.”
UT was led by freshman Oliver Goss and senior Rick Lamb. The Vols started on the back nine and Goss played the stretch 3 under, including a birdie on No. 18, a hole he played a combined 4 over in the previous two days. Lamb had back-to-back birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 and went on to add two more birdies on the front nine.
Goss finished with a 2-under 70 for the day and even for the tournament at 216, good for fifth place. Lamb shot 71, and finished tied for 24th at 225.
Senior Jay Vandeventer (73) tied for 17th. Freshman Mike Nagy (74) played the front nine 1 under Saturday and finished tied for 37th at 229. Sophomore Thomas Dunne (81) tied for 65th.
The Vols, in a tight battle with Houston, Coastal Carolina and South Alabama for the final two qualifying spots, combined to play their final three holes just 2 over.
Alabama won the team title, making up eight shots entering the day on Florida with a 282 to finish at 868. Individually, a pair of Alabama players also leaped Florida players. Scott Strohmeyer (69) won the tournament at 212 and teammate Bobby Wyatt finished two shots back, jumping up from a 14th-place tie with a 66.