Chattanooga golf eyes NCAA Championship berth - WSMV News 4

Chattanooga golf eyes NCAA Championship berth

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WRCB) -- Making travel plans was a bit easier for Mark Guhne ahead of Chattanooga golf's sixth straight NCAA Regional appearance this week.

In fact, aside from confirming the hotel, all the Mocs' head coach had to do grab a DVD player and fill the team van with gas.

"I love the fact we're only going three hours away. That's a two-movie drive," Guhne said of the Mocs' visit to Bowling Green, Kentucky. "It seems like we've thrown into four different time zones the last three years, and that's tough.

"It's really nice juts to make a regular trip like we do the rest of the season, so I'm looking forward to that."

The Mocs, who are ranked in the top 40 nationally by both Golfstat and Golfweek/Sagarin, are hopeful this week's road trip mirrors the last one they took as a team last month.

UTC ran away from the field in a ridiculous 19-shot victory at the Southern Conference Championships in South Carolina, and senior Stephan Jaeger cruised to the individual title.

"The last two days there we kept it in play, hit good shots, made a lot of putts and played how we're supposed to be playing," said sophomore Benni Weilguni, whose sister played with the UTC women's team at least week's NCAA East Regional.

Guhne doesn't see any reason his team can't carry over that type of play when it tees off at The Club at Old Stone on Thursday morning.

"I like the way the guys are playing right now. I like the way they're thinking," he said. "The confidence coming off the conference championship definitely goes a long way."

And so does experience at this stage in the season.

Four of the five Mocs in the lineup this week have played in a regional before, including Jaeger, who will be just the third UTC men's golfer to play in a regional in each of his four seasons. 

The Baylor School grad and three-time SoCon Player of the Year is ranked in the top 20 as an individual by both Golfstat and the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. 

"It helps to have people who have been there and experienced the pressure before," said Jaeger, whose career-best regional finish was a tie for 13th as a freshman. "I think we're all ready. It's just another tournament for us, and we need to go in and approach it like that."

The Mocs need to finish in the top five of the 14-team field to advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be played at famed Riviera Country Club at the end of the month.

"If it's winning, if it's second or third, whatever. We'll take any position that takes us to finals," Jaeger said. "We'll aim for first and then have some spare room to go."

UTC has advanced through regional play just once in its six tries, qualifying for the national championships in 2009 with a third-place finish in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

This year's club has confidence it can do it again.

"We want to go to riviera. That's our top goal," said Weilguni. "I'm pretty sure we have the potential to be there, and we should be there."

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