Castro's 69 Paces Tech in NCAA First Round

June 1, 2005

Owings Mills, Md. – Roberto Castro led Georgia Tech with a one-under-par 69 Wednesday, and Mike Barbosa added a 71 and Chan Song a 73 for the third-ranked Yellow Jackets, who posted an eight-over-par score of 288 and are tied for 12th place after the first round of the NCAA Division I Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club.

Tech, which went 12-over-par over 54 holes here last fall in the Golfweek Preview Classic, also counted a 75 from senior Nicholas Thompson Wednesday. The Jackets, who tee off at 12:18 p.m. on the first hole for Thursday’s second round, are 14 shots off the pace of Georgia, the nation’s second-ranked team, who posted a six-under-par 274, five shots ahead of Tennessee (279).

Georgia and Tennessee were the only teams to break par Wednesday, despite almost ideal weather conditions all day over the difficult 7,131-yard, par 70 layout in suburban Baltimore, with bright sunshine, gentle breezes and temperatures in the 70s prevailing. Three Bulldogs broke 70, led by Kevin Kisner’s 65, while the Volunteers’ Ross McGowan shot 67.

Arizona, whose two-over-par 282 led the morning wave, is in third place, followed by UNLV and Coastal Carolina at 284. Brigham Young is in sixth place 285, with Augusta State and Georgia Southern tied for seventh at 286. SMU, Georgia State and Wake Forest are tied for ninth at 287. Tech was tied with Duke and Arkansas for the 12th through 14th positions. Sixth-ranked Florida, fifth-ranked New Mexico and Washington are tied for 15th place at 289, just one shot beneath the Yellow Jackets.

The 30 teams will play 36 more holes Thursday and Friday before the field is trimmed to the low 15 teams for the final 18 holes Saturday. Top-ranked Oklahoma State is in 24th place at 292, though just three strokes below the 15th-place team.

Live scoring for the championship is available on Golfstat.com, and the Golf Channel will televise highlights and live coverage from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“We let four shots get away there at the end of the round,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler. “We made some mistakes on No. 8 (Tech’s 17th hole), with a double bogey and two bogeys that took the air out of our sails.”

Castro, a sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., posted four birdies and three bogeys in his round Wednesday. Barbosa birdied four holes on Tech’s first nine, but was unable to sustain his momentum and came home in three-over-par. Song was one-over at the turn but bogeyed three holes on his finishing nine.”

It was the third straight sub-70 round for Castro, who finished the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago with 69-65. Ranked seventh in the nation in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, Castro led Tech and the ACC in stroke average (71.00) coming into this tournament.

“I was pleased. I just kind of freed up and trusted myself, like the last round at the regional, and that carried over to today,” said Castro, who will play for the United State in the Palmer Cup later this month. “I was able to hit it in some fairways, and I’ve been hitting it well, so I went after a lot of the pins and played pretty aggressively. It paid off. I was hitting it well, so I said, ‘why not?’

Castro was one of eight players (out of 75) to break par during the morning round, and his score wound up tying for 14th place after the round was completed. Georgia Southern’s Aron Price was the leader in the clubhouse with a four-under-par 66 before Kisner and Augusta State’s Major Manning came along in the afternoon to grab a share of the lead with their 65s. Five golfers each were tied at 67 and 68.

“That was a really good round by Roberto, and some good playing by Mike,” said Heppler. “If we could’ve gotten that fourth score today, then we’re there. We got a 69, a 71 and a 73, but we had to reach back to far for that fourth one.”

Tech was unable to make any hay on the course’s two par-five holes, playing them in even par, and Heppler lamented not being able to score better under good weather conditions. The forecast for Thursday calls for temperatures in the mid-60s and a 50-percent chance of rain or thunderstorms in the afternoon when Tech is scheduled to play.

“It’s a long tournament, like a major championship, and you just have to keep playing and at some point you make some putts and play well,” said Heppler, whose team typically has started slowly and gotten progressively better in championship events. “Today’s the day you’re supposed to play well because it’s early in the morning and the wind’s not blowing. It’s going to be a battle. Everyone’s still feeling their way around.

“It’s a lot like a USGA event. It’s cut your losses, pitch it out and get in the short grass where you can control it. If you try and do too much, then you end up making too much. We know what to do. Sometimes that first round is the hardest one to play.”

The Golf Coaches Association of America released its All-Region teams Tuesday, and Castro, Song and Thompson all were named to the All-South team.

NCAA DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIPCaves Valley Golf Club, Owings Mills, Md.

FIRST-ROUND LEADERS (Top 15 teams and ties) Georgia 274 (-6) Tennessee 279 (-1) Arizona 282 UNLV 284 Coastal Carolina 284 Brigham Young 285 Augusta State 286 Georgia Southern 286 Georgia State 287 SMU 287 Wake Forest 287 Georgia Tech 288 Duke 288 Arkansas 288 Florida 289 New Mexico 289 Washington 289 *field will be cut to 15 teams after 54 holes, ties will be played off

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Kevin Kisner, Georgia 65 (-5) Major Manning, Augusta State 65 (-5) Aron Price, Georgia Southern 66 (-4) Five tied at 67 (-3) Five tied at 68 (-2)

GEORGIA TECH SCORES Roberto Castro (T14) 69 (-1) Mike Barbosa (T33) 71 (+1) Chan Song (T71) 73 (+3) Nicholas Thompson (T107) 75 (+5) Kevin Larsen (T129) 77 (+7)

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