FINAL ROUND OF OVC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS RAINED OUT; CARPENTER VOTED OVC COACH OF THE YEAR
April 27, 2014
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MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. - The University of Tennessee at Martin golf team made a push once again in the final round of the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference golf championships today, shooting up to second place in the standings after nine holes. However, Mother Nature intervened and since all schools could not finish the third round, the scores were reverted back to the second round totals and the Skyhawks came in fourth place at 575 (-1).
Today's round started under calm playing conditions but action was stopped at 12:02 p.m. because of lightning. After a 1-hour, 34-minute weather delay, the teams resumed play for another hour and 13 minutes before more lightning delayed play for good at 2:49 p.m. That marked the third time in the last four years that the OVC Tournament had been cut short to 36 holes because of inclement weather.
Although the Skyhawks' comeback attempt was cut short, the team received some good news at the end of the day as Jerry Carpenter was named OVC Coach of the Year in a vote of his OVC head coaching peers. He becomes the first UT Martin representative to garner the league's top coaching accolade. In his 11th year at the helm of the Skyhawk program, Carpenter has recruited the OVC Freshman of the Year in each of the past two seasons and his steady presence helped UT Martin enter this weekend's tournament as the league leader in scoring average (292.66).
"I have never been so stunned in my life - I thought it was a misprint," Carpenter said of his OVC Coach of the Year award. "I really appreciate the way the fellow coaches voted but like I told the team, I won this award because of their hard work. The coaches saw how far we have come and our improvement in the program and the players deserve this more than I do - I didn't hit a single golf ball this year. I am truly speechless for the first time in my life and I am thankful from the bottom of my heart - I will cherish this honor for the rest of my life."
Through nine holes today, it seemed as if the Skyhawks had a real shot at claiming their first-ever OVC championship crown. After carding the best score out of any team in any round yesterday (12-under), the Skyhawks once again had the best score in the third round (even par) at the time Sunday's action was called off. UT Martin had jumped up to second place in the standings and was a mere four shots behind Jacksonville State, who was between its third and sixth holes. The Gamecocks would eventually claim the tournament title with their two-round score of 567 (-9).
Tyler Shellnut was 1-under par while Brendon Caballero and Ben Reeves were both at even par in the third round. Clay Harbin (+1) and Austin Swafford (+4) also helped the Skyhawks make their final surge up the scoreboard before the scores from the third round were wiped clean.
"If the lightning would have just came about 10 minutes earlier and we had resumption of play, I know we had a good chance to win," Carpenter said. "We had already cut our deficit to four strokes and we were playing exceptionally well - nobody had come close to matching our even-par score through nine holes. With that said, the rules are the rules and I'm all about player safety - there is no need to jeopardize that in any form or fashion. It's disappointing but I am so proud of our team's resiliency. I congratulate Jacksonville State on their victory."
UT Martin placed a trio of players in the top-10 for the tournament. Caballero and Harbin each shot a score of 143 (-1) to tie for sixth while Reeves' 144 even-par performance ranked 10th in the field of 55 golfers. Shellnut ended with a 147 (+3) while Swafford carded a 151 (+7).