published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Golf Mocs start Sunday

Stephan Jaeger earned a spot in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's spring golf starting lineup based on the success he had last fall. That launched him to the No. 8 ranking of all NCAA Division I golfers and a spot on the Hogan Award watch list.

The other Mocs had to earn their spots during a six-round qualifying tournament at Chattanooga-area courses.

The final spot came down to a playoff -- an 18-hole playoff.

"Over those six rounds, you'd think they'd separate," coach Mark Guhne said. "You could tell the pressure was getting to them."

Steven Fox, Chris Robb and Liam Johnston joined Jaeger during the first six rounds on the team that's heading to the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C., for the spring season opener Sunday.

But Davis Bunn and Benni Weilguni needed to play 18 more holes, head to head, at Black Creek Club to determine the fifth participant.

"Benni shot 70 and Davis shot 73," Guhne said. "Even with a couple holes left, it was wide open.

"That kind of competition will make them all better."

The Mocs, who have played in NCAA regional tournaments the last five years, will play in five tournaments during the spring season and face top teams from the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences at every stop.

Then they will play in the Southern Conference tournament April 15-17 at the Ralston Creek Course in Daniel Island S.C., which was the site of the Nationwide Tour championship, and attempt to reclaim a crown they owned from 2007 to 2009.

"This is the deepest we've ever been," Guhne said. "It's nice to know that you have guys at home ready to step in if somebody starts going the wrong way."

The Seahawk Intercollegiate is up first beginning Sunday for the Mocs, who are ranked No. 26 in the country by GolfWeek.

"A lot of guys have made improvements over the winter, and I'm excited to get it started," said Jaeger, the former Baylor School standout who won the prestigious GolfWeek Conference Challenge tournament in September. "I've been jumpy the whole week. It will be a good test for us to start the season."

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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