published Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Women's rally allows UTC titles sweep

Colette Murray rode an emotional roller coaster as she checked her phone for live scoring from the Southern Conference women's golf tournament.

Her team had a chance to win Tuesday even after finishing the first round 11 shots out of first place. The Mocs were four back after the second round Monday and were in a tight battle throughout the final round.

"The score was flip-flopping," Murray said by phone. "One minute I thought we had it; then we didn't."

They did. They edged UNC Greensboro by three strokes for their third straight SoCon championship at Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, S.C., and gives them a berth in an NCAA regional.

Sophomore Jordan Britt, who played in high school at GPS and Signal Mountain, was the medalist with a 6-over 222 and rolled in the final putt of the day. She missed the green on her final six holes but got up and down for par four times, including the last three holes.

"It was a very stressful back nine," said Britt, the runner-up to now-graduated teammate Emma de Groot last year. "I made some interesting putts and some interesting shots. But it worked out in the end.

"Being able to win this with the girls is amazing."

The UTC men's golf team also collected the big trophies Tuesday, but they did so with much less stress at Ralston Creek Golf Course in Daniel Island, S.C.

Coach Mark Guhne's Mocs won by 19 shots with senior Stephan Jaeger earning medalist honors at 9-under 207. The former Baylor prep standout closed with a 69 and won by 11 strokes, which ties the SoCon record for margin of victory with Brad Faxon in 1983, and was named player of the year for the third season in a row.

Guhne counted four under-par scores from the final round. Sophomore Steven Fox shot 70 and tied for fourth, while sophomore Chris Robb and freshman Liam Johnston shot 71s with Robb finishing in a tie for runner-up.

"I was going down No. 16 with Liam and I told him we were 16 up, and he hit a drive 15-20 yards farther than anything I've seen," Guhne said. "All the guys played well, and it was really cool."

Robb said "we all played smarter the last two days."

Of his own play he said, "The first round was shaky but I got back and played solid, and I'm really happy with my tournament."

Jaeger is the second UTC player to win the men's medalist honor. It's been 34 years since Donnie Green did it in 1978. The win also ties him with Jonathan Hodge and Bryce Ledford, who won team titles three times wearing blue and gold.

"On No. 17, Coach told me we were 20 ahead and then he said Chris was in second and I jokingly asked, 'Who's in first?'" Jaeger said. "It's really thrilling. I was very consistent with my play off the tee and from the fairway."

Murray's team posted the two best rounds of the women's tournament -- Monday's 303 and Tuesday's 301. Britt closed with a 74. Marion Duvernay shot 75 while Sophie Weilguni and Maria Juliana Loza shot 76s.

"It's the sweetest victory we've ever had," said Loza, who finished in third place. "The first year we won, it was a great comeback, but this was so close."

And only Mocs won championships at the two South Carolina sites.

"What we're beginning to demonstrate is that we have great golf programs," athletic director Rick Hart said. "It's one thing to have a great team. It's another to do it year after year and with different rosters. It's pretty neat for UTC."

about David Uchiyama...

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 ...

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