Colette Murray stepped away until her players were out of listening distance before she described the importance of winning the Southern Conference women's golf tournament.
"We have to get it this year," the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach said. "We're not ranked high enough to get [an at-large regional berth]. My team has not dealt well with pressure this year, so the less they are aware of that fact, the better."
The Mocs will begin defense of their SoCon title with 18 holes today and rounds again Monday and Tuesday at Moss Creek Golf Course in Hilton Head, S.C., where they won in 2010 as well as 2011. They also went to an NCAA regional in 2009.
UTC is ranked No. 73 in the nation by GolfWeek, which is outside the typical at-large cutoff. UNC Greensboro is the top-ranked SoCon school at No. 68 and Furman checks in at No. 84. The College of Charleston is 91st and Samford is ranked No. 99.
Win and they're in. Otherwise the season is over.
That fact is not lost on Mocs sophomore Jordan Britt, who played high school golf at GPS and Signal Mountain. She is the top-ranked UTC individual at No. 319 -- probably not high enough to earn an individual invitation to the NCAA tournament. UNCG freshman Fanny Cnops is the top-ranked SoCon individual at No. 53.
"We've worked for this moment and we're excited about it," said Britt, who finished runner-up last year to graduated UTC golfer Emma de Groot. "We know what's at stake, and there is no doubt in our mind that we can win this. We're thinking optimistically about it."
Moss Creek is set up as a par-72 course at 5,975 yards.
"I think we're a smart team and we have the ability to think our way around it," Murray said. "Anyone can play well on an open course, but this course requires a tremendous amount of thought and effort.
"And in the past that has been one of our strengths."
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 ...