The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf team drove home from the NCAA Columbus regional on Saturday.
It was their last trip of the season.
The Mocs shot 37 over par and tied for ninth with UNC Charlotte. They finished 10 shots behind fifth-place Texas Tech, which earned the last qualifying spot from the regional for the NCAA championship tournament.
"It's definitely disappointing not making it to nationals like we did last year," UTC senior Steven Fox said. "The guys showed some fight."
The Mocs shot 20 over par the first day, 10 over in the second round and 7 over Saturday.
"We played two days that were plenty good enough, but you have to play three," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "We played bad on the first day, and that leaves you on the outside looking in. Catching up was just about impossible.
"Yesterday and today I was pleased with how we played."
The Mocs were 10 over on the 16th hole for the first two rounds, leaving them feeling they could have advanced.
No. 16 is a 370-yard par-4 with a dogleg to the left. Guhne said Friday that the Mocs rarely found that fairway off the tee, resulting in little chance to reach the green from a bunker or deep rough. They all parred it in the final round.
"I'm disappointed and we know we're a good enough team to get through, and we proved it on the last two days," Guhne said. "But that first day killed us."
Fox tied for 22nd individually at 8-over 221 after finishing with an even-par round of 71. He is scheduled to leave today for a seven-week stretch starting with the Colonial, the Memorial, the St. Jude Open and the U.S. Open.
Liam Johnston shot a 72 and tied for 37th at 224. Chris Robb tied for 48th and Davis Bunn tied for 51st.
"In a tournament like this, you have to get off to a good start," Bunn said. "We were disappointed in our start, but we thought we could put together two great rounds and get through."
New Mexico won the regional and advanced to the Crabapple Course outside of Atlanta. Auburn and South Carolina were two shots behind. UNLV and Texas Tech also advanced.
James Erkenbeck of New Mexico earned medalist honors at 3 under. He beat Auburn's Dominic Bozelli, Virginia's Denny McCarthy and South Carolina's Matthew NeSmith by four strokes.
Fox is UTC's only graduating senior. Bunn, Robb and Benni Weilguni will be seniors next season.
"It's like after we lost [Jonathan] Hodge, then Derek Rende, then [Stephan] Jaeger and now Fox," Guhne said. "Somebody has to step up. We need to come up with the next good player.
"I know all three have a lot of playing experience."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...