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Championships begin today at Caves


John Scott Rattan comes into the NCAA Division I golf championships off his best tournament of the season, and he and his University of Tennessee teammates qualified with the school's best regional finish.

The Vols will be among 30 teams and six individuals in action when play begins this morning at Caves Valley Golf Club. The 72-hole event runs through Saturday with a single round each day.

Rattan, from Gaithersburg, was an All-Southeastern Conference selection as a junior and came into his senior year with high expectations. He talked about it after yesterday's practice round.

"It's been an up-and-down year. With the expectations, I put a lot of pressure on myself." This spring, the "down" part was missing out on a couple of tournaments. The "up" part came at the East Regional in Nashville, Tenn., a month ago when he shot 7-under-par 206 and tied for eighth. The team placed second, three shots behind Wake Forest.

"We won three tournaments during the year, and while our regional finish might have surprised some people, we were confident we could play that well," Rattan added. "Now, the best part of the year is still ahead.

This marks his first visit to the superbly conditioned layout in Owings Mills, but, as he explained, "My older brother, Josh, has been here and he told me great things about the place. It's unbelievable."

As for the course, which will play at nearly 7,200 yards and a par-70: "The fairways are a little soft, not enough to make a divot, but the ball is not running," Rattan said. "The greens are a good speed, and they'll be fast by the end of the week."

Besides Wake Forest and Tennessee, other top teams include Central regional winner Augusta (Ga.) State, Oklahoma State, Nevada-Las Vegas and New Mexico.

Among the individuals, UNLV's Ryan Moore is the most decorated, having won last year's NCAA crown, the U.S. Public Links and U.S. Amateur titles.

Tee times

First tee: 7 a.m. - Alabama, Arkansas, BYU; 7:45 - Coastal Carolina, SMU, Arizona; 8:30 - Georgia Southern, Purdue, Southern Cal; 12:18 - Tennessee, Oklahoma State, New Mexico; 1:03 - Florida, Tulsa, UCLA; 1:48 - Rhys Davies, East Tennessee State; Korey Mahoney, Eastern Michigan; Gregg LaVoie, Oregon.

10th tee: 7:18 - Georgia Tech, Missouri, San Diego State; 8:03 - Duke, Texas, Stanford; 8:48 - Martin Ureta, North Carolina; Judd Easterling, Wichita State; Michael Putnam, Pepperdine; 12:00 - Wake Forest, Augusta State, Nevada-Las Vegas; 12:45 - Georgia, Texas A&M;, Washington; 1:30 - Georgia State, Kentucky, Arizona State.

At a glance

What: Men's Division I golf championships

Where: Caves Valley Golf Club, Owings Mills

When: Today through Saturday

Format: 30 teams (five players each, four best scores are used) competing for team titles, plus six other players whose schools have been eliminated are competing for individual titles.

Tickets: Available at the gate. Prices: $36 for the week; $12 for individual-day tickets today, tomorrow and Friday; $15 for individual-day tickets Saturday. Parking is $5.

Parking: Across from the entrance. Shuttles are available.

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