SILVIS, Ill. - 5/24/2011 - The Union (Tenn.) University men's golf team is playing in their second straight NAIA National Championship at the TPC Deere Run. This also marks their ninth appearance as a team to go along with three individual qualifier appearances. Union's high finish was eighth place in 1996.
Union earned the automatic bid to the national tournament by winning the 2011 TranSouth Conference Tournament. Union has won two straight TranSouth titles and four in the last six years.
Union's Brett Barry enters the event as the TranSouth Player of the Year, while head coach Andy Rushing was named TranSouth Coach of the year. Senior Matt Kelley was recognized on Monday night at the national championship banquet as Union's Champion of Character team representative.
Round 1 Recap: The Union golf team hit the links early with a 7:00 a.m. tee time for the first group. Steven Coffelt was the first Bulldog to tee off at 7:00 a.m. He was followed by Matt Kelley, Micah Gentle, Ryan Chandler and Brett Barry at 7:36 a.m. Union struggled in the first round as they shot a 311 (+27). Union was led by Gentle with a 75. Kelley shot a 76, Steven Coffelt shot a 78, Chandler shot an 81 while Barry finished with an 82. This was the first time in Barry's career that his score did not count towards the team total. Barry had started his career with 25 straight counters. Barry, a sophomore this season, is just two counting scores away from the Union record of 27 counters. This round also snapped a team streak of eight straight rounds below 300.
Round 2 Recap: Due to rain and thunderstorms in the area, the start of round two was delayed until 2:00 p.m. All teams began at 2 p.m. in a shotgun start format on Wednesday. The teams were able to complete eight holes before more rain came and halted the second round. After a rough first round, Union started the second round with great play. Through the first eight holes of second round, Union was 3-over par as a team. Brett Barry led the way at 2-under through eight holes. The Bulldogs are looking to play their way back up the leader board as the event continues. Through eight holes, Micah Gentle was even, Steven Coffelt was 2-over, while Ryan Chandler and Matt Kelley were 3-over.
The second round resumed on Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the entire field in shotgun start format. Union could not maintain the momentum started on Wednesday as they finished with another 311 team total. However, because of the bad playing conditions with wet turf and cold winds, Union was able to pick up a few spots on the leader board as they moved to 21st place after two rounds. Sophomore standout Brett Barry rallied after a tough first round with a 2-over 73 to lead Union. Steven Coffelt was 6-over, Micah Gentle was 8-over, Ryan Chandler was 11-over and Matt Kelley was 14-over on the par 71. Union still has work to do as a team as the cut line is the top-17 teams, plus any ties for 17th. The cut will take place after the third round.
Round 3 Recap: Round three started at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday after round two was completed during the morning. Union stormed back with their best round of the tournament, shooting a team score of 298, after firing a pair of 311's in the first two rounds. The round of 298 for Union was the ninth best score of the round among all 29 teams in the field. However, the inspired play of the Bulldogs fell just short of making the cut. Union finished in 19th place, seven strokes off the cut line. Only the top-17 teams made the cut. Brett Barry, Ryan Chandler and Steven Coffelt each shot 3-over 74's in the third round. Micah Gentle was 5-over and Matt Kelley was 14-over. For the second straight season, Union had a player score and eagle on the TPC course. Coffelt, a freshman from Tullahoma, Tenn. drained a shot from the fairway on the par-4 13th hole to score the eagle. Last season, Ryan Chandler scored an eagle on the par-4 eighth hole on a shot from the fairway. Union improved their standing in each round after sitting in 22nd place following round one, Union moved up to 21st place after the second round and then into the top-20 at 19th place after the final round. Union's top-20 finish was the best for Union men's golf since a 10th place finish in 1998. Union was 23rd last season.
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