published Sunday, April 14th, 2013

UTC must win for regional bid

Colette Murray is quite concerned.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's golf coach knows the postseason fate of her team comes down to one tournament -- the Southern Conference championship.

Whichever school wins will get the league's automatic bid into one of three NCAA regional tournaments. Finish anything but first and the summer season will arrive immediately.

"We were on the bubble last year and we still could have done it," Murray said this past week. "We're not even a bubble team this year. We're not hovering around that number."

Her Mocs are 69th according to GolfWeek and 74th by GolfStat, well beyond the 40th ranking that almost assures an at-large berth in a regional.

"It's imperative that we win," Murray said after a 12th-place finish Tuesday at the Web.com Intercollegiate at Marsh Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. "It doesn't help that we got beat by two junior colleges."

The SoCon tournament begins today on the North Course of Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, S.C., and runs through Tuesday with teams playing 18 holes each day.

UTC is the second-best team in the field based on rankings. Furman is No. 65 in the GolfWeek standings and No. 68 in GolfStat, relegating the SoCon to a one-bid league as it is for men's and women's basketball.

"In basketball, they beat one team each day," Murray said. "We have to beat all the teams."

UTC has won the last three championships with each of them coming at Moss Creek. Junior Jordan Britt, who prepped at GPS and Signal Mountain, earned medalist honors last year after shooting a 6-over-par 222 on the course that measures 5,995 yards.

But she's not the favorite this week. Furman's Laura Wearn is ranked No. 32 in the country by GolfWeek, UNC Greensboro sophomore Fanny Cnops is ranked No. 70 and Britt is No. 306.

"I went through a bit of a swing change and a putting change," Britt said. "But even when my shots are lacking, I'm still able to get it up and down around the greens. Getting more confidence is what I hope will help me this weekend."

The Mocs, Murray said, will need to eliminate the inconsistency that has plagued them throughout the fall and spring seasons. Each player -- Britt, Agathe Sauzon, Porsche Campbell, Isabella Loza and Emily McLennan -- is capable of posting quality scores, but not all of them do that on the same day or even at the same tournament.

"We haven't executed very well, and it's like we show up for one round every tournament," Murray said. "You have to play golf every round and have people show up every day."

If not, the summer season starts Wednesday.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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