This weekend in Sea Island, Georgia, the Tennessee men’s golf team anticipates ending a streak that has festered since the 2006-2007 season: An SEC title drought.
The lone senior on the team, Lorenzo Scalise, looks to notch a top performance for the Vols as he heads out the door to a potentially illustrious professional golf career.
The Vols will face a competitive field in the SEC Tournament that features six top-10 teams. Texas A&M and Vanderbilt have had two of the best seasons in the league so far, both finding themselves in the top five as post-season play comes around.
Last time the Vols saw the course as a team, they came out victorious by eleven strokes in the Yale Spring Invitational. The team saw its first individual winner, in the senior from Milan, Italy, in almost four years.
“(The team) played really well under adverse conditions in the second round,” head coach Jim Kelson said of last weekend’s action.
Scalise went on to shoot an even 70 in the final second round on the way to his top two-under performance.
The course the team will be competing on hosts a PGA event, among other notable competitions, when it is not hosting the championship. Championship events bring championship-like conditions, but Scalise is not scared.
“It’s a golf course I have always played really well,” Scalise said. “You have to know when to play aggressive and when to play conservatively … The biggest thing is patience.”
Brayden Garrison and Rhys Nevin, a sophomore duo, played well last week in the Yale Spring Invitational along with Scalise, taking a top-five finish individually with them into this weekend’s action.
Garrison has made strides as the season has progressed and is ready to build on his first top-10 career finish. Rhys Nevin gained his third top-five performance in the action.
Chase Roswell, a freshman, had a top-20 finish last week, good for his second-best career finish in his first season. The shots he hit last week instilled confidence in his coaches, especially Kelson.
“I’ve got a coach’s hunch he might have a really good week,” Kelson said.
Roswell has made strides since the beginning of his time on Rocky Top and is hoping to continue that trend this weekend in front of all the other SEC schools.
It has been a long time coming since the Vols have been able to raise the trophy at the end of the week, but one thing they do have going for them is coaching experience.
Kelson is in his 20th season at the helm of the program and has experienced an SEC championship himself, knowing what it takes to achieve that goal. One thing that his previous SEC champion team and his current squad have in common is “high character,” according to Kelson.
Championship teams often feature this trait, which could provide confidence for Tennessee as it moves toward its goal of an SEC title.
The Vols potentially have the tools to stick around during the trophy ceremony, and if Lorenzo Scalise or Chase Roswell have their way, they will be the ones raising it.