CHATTANOOGA (UTC/WRCB) -- It's a pretty simple equation for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf team: Finish in the top five this weekend at the NCAA Columbus Regional and the quintet advances to the NCAA Championship.
Of course, that's always easier said than done.
Though it was easy for the Mocs a year ago, when they made program history by sweeping team and individual honors at the NCAA Bowling Green Regional.
"We started off really well and were hanging around," recalled head coach Mark Guhne. "Then that last day we felt comfortable about making the cut for nationals, and we noticed we got real close to the lead. That's when it got really fun.
"It'd certainly be great to do that again."
It was a perfect storm that may be hard to recreate.
Steven Fox shot a course record to help put the Mocs in contention, then senior Stephan Jaeger made a charge to win medalist honors while the rest of the team turned in some of their best performances of the season.
The signs are there that it's possible, though, considering last year's Mocs had a mediocre regular season before running away with the SoCon title. This year's group, which returned every player but Jaeger, did the same as it set itself to peak at the right time.
"All of these guys have been to an NCAA Regional before, so we have plenty of experience," Guhne said. "All the guys seem to be playing really good right now. They're relaxed and out of school, so they're focused on golf."
Twice in its history, Chattanooga has advanced out of a regional. The first time was 2009 at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla., and the second was a year ago.
UTC tees off Thursday on the difficult Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. History is on the Mocs' side as the women's team made its NCAA Championship appearance in 2009 advancing from this very site in just the second year of the program.
The Scarlet Course is a par 71, 7,286 beast. World-renowned architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie designed it and the course opened in 1938. It was updated and enhanced in 2005 and 2006 by another well-known golf figure, Jack Nicklaus. It last held a regional in 2008, the Central Regional, with Wake Forest winning with a 27-over par score of 879.
The Mocs are one of 13 teams and 10 individuals to square off on the difficult tract. Five teams and one individual on a non-advancing team travel on to Atlanta and the Capital City Club Crabapple Course for the NCAA Championship May 28-June 2.
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