The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been the highest ranked Southern Conference men's golf team for the last few years.
The Mocs even reached No. 1 in the country in the fall of 2008.
But they have failed to win the SoCon tournament the last two years, instead earning at-large berths into NCAA regionals. They aim to change that trend beginning today with 18 holes at the Ralston Creek Course in Daniel Island, S.C.
"We're assured of playing in the NCAAs because of our record and ranking, and that's nice," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "But we want to bring that SoCon trophy back to Chattanooga."
The Mocs won the SoCon three straight years, 2007-09, then finished seventh in 2010 and third last year -- all at the Country Club of South Carolina.
"When you're the top-ranked team all year and don't win, it's a letdown," Guhne said. "There's something special about winning conference."
UTC is ranked No. 39 in the country by GolfWeek. Georgia Southern is the next highest in the league at No. 91, so the Eagles must win Tuesday to advance to an NCAA regional.
"We're always ranked the best," UTC senior Stephan Jaeger said. "We should win it every year. But others play the best week of their life."
The Mocs have been led all season by Jaeger, who was on the Hogan Award watch list but was not one of 10 finalists. Jaeger, who prepped at Baylor School, is ranked No. 25 in the country by GolfWeek. That's one spot behind UCLA's Patrick Cantlay, who was the low amateur at the Masters last week.
Steven Fox, Chris Robb, Liam Johnston and Benni Weilguni also will play for the Mocs in the tournament. Jaeger and Fox are the only Mocs who have played in every tournament this year; UTC has played with six different lineups in 10 events.
Ralston Creek will play at 7,446 yards and was the site of the Nationwide Tour Championship last October. That seems to suit the Mocs just fine.
"We play better on tough courses," said Jaeger, who is the two-time defending SoCon player of the year and the favorite to win it again. "So it should fit us."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...