Golf Team Looks to Continue Regional Success

May 14, 2008

ATLANTA – Looking to continue its string of success in advancing past NCAA regional tournaments, Georgia Tech’s 8th-ranked golf team opens play at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.

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The No. 3 seed at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course (7,419 yards, par 71), Tech will be bidding to advance to the NCAA Championship for the 11th consecutive year and for the 22nd time in the last 26 years.

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Top-ranked Alabama and No. 5 Oklahoma State are the top two seeds ahead of the Yellow Jackets, who have been moved out of their geographic region for the second time in three years. This year’s Central Regional field includes 15 of the nation’s top 50 teams in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

The Yellow Jackets, Crimson Tide and Cowboys will be paired in each of the first two rounds, teeing off from the No. 1 tee between 11:30 a.m. and 12:08 p.m. Eastern time in Thursday’s opening round. For round 2 on Friday, the three teams will tee off No. 10 between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Saturday’s tee times will be based in 36-hole results, with the top 15 teams playing in the morning wave.

The top 10 finishers out of 27 teams after 54 holes will advance to the 111th NCAA Men’s Division I Championship, to be played May 28-31 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. In 17 previous NCAA regional qualifiers, Georgia Tech has never failed to advance to the championship. The Yellow Jackets’ lowest finish ever was a tie for seventh place, and they have won four regionals, most recently in 2002.

Chesson Hadley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., and Cameron Tringale, a junior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., head a Tech contingent that also includes junior Taylor Hall of LaGrange, Ga., red-shirt freshman J.T. Griffin of Wilson, N.C., and junior David Dragoo of Scottsdale, Ariz. This is the same group that finished fourth at last month’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

Hadley, who leads the ACC this year in stroke average (70.79) and has five top-10 finishes, is on the watch list for this year’s Jack Nicklaus Award and is a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award. Hadley tied for 20th at the ACC Championship and won the Carpet Capital Collegiate in the fall, and is the nation’s No. 9-ranked player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. As a freshman, Hadley finished seventh in last year’s East Regional with a 2-under-par score.

Tringale, who has Tech’s best spring stroke average (70.76) and four top-10 finishes for the year, tied for 13th place at the ACC Championship and ranks sixth in the ACC in overall stroke average this year (71.69). Ranked No. 34 in the Sagarin Index, and has averaged 71.83 in six NCAA regional rounds and has a pair of top-20 finishes, including a tie fourth last year in the East Regional.

Hall, making his third NCAA regional start, has not fared well in either of his previous two appearances (T63 as a freshman, T78 as a sophomore), but has developed into a solid No. 3 player for Tech this year. The junior has a 73.26 stroke average and finished fifth in the ACC Championship, and has risen to No. 96 in the Sagarin Index.

Griffin and Dragoo will be making their first NCAA regional appearances, just as they did in the ACC Championship last month, and have been part of Tech’s travel squad for the last three events. Dragoo tied for 13th at the ACC Championship, his career-best finish, with a 4-under-par score of 212 that also was a career-best, including a closing 67. He averages 74.38 stroke in 26 rounds this year. Griffin, meanwhile, has averaged 75.18 strokes in 17 competitive rounds, and his best finish was a tie for 33rd in the United States Collegiate Championship.

The Yellow Jackets, who traveled to Ohio Monday, spent Tuesday playing a round of golf at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, site of the annual Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. Hall got around in 66 shots, while Dragoo carded a 69.

As a team this year, Tech has not won a tournament, but posted two third-place finishes in fall stroke play events, finished second in the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championship, and has three fourth-place efforts in six spring events. Head-to-head against all competition, the Yellow Jackets are 92-38-2.

Other top-50 teams in the Central, in order of seed, include sixth-ranked Florida, No. 11 Tennessee, No. 27 Lamar, No. 22 Wake Forest, No. 23 Indiana, No. 17 Texas A&M, No. 25 Louisville, No. 26 Wichita State, No. 36 Kent State, No. 43 Penn State, No. 39 Arkansas and No. 46 Michigan.

The other two regional tournaments will be held the same weekend at the Council Fire Golf Club in Chattanooga, Tenn. (East Regional) and Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash. (West Regional). Each regional is a 54-hole stroke play event with 27 teams and six individuals competing. The top 10 finishers and two individuals not on those teams in each regional advance to the 111th NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, May 28-31 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.

2008 NCAA CENTRAL REGIONAL GOLF TOURNAMENT

Site: Ohio State Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio Dates: May 15-17 (Thursday-Saturday), practice round on Wednesday, May 14 Host school: Ohio State Admission: Free Website: www.NCAA.com, www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Teams competing (in order of seed): 1. Alabama (Southeastern Conference), 2. Oklahoma State (Big 12 Conference), 3. Georgia Tech, 4. Florida, 5. Tennessee, 6. Lamar (Southland Conference), 7. Wake Forest, 8. Indiana, 9. Texas A&M, 10. Louisville, 11. Wichita State (Missouri Valley Conference), 12. Kent State, 13. Penn State, 14. Arkansas, 15. Michigan, 16. TCU, 17. Texas-Arlington, 18. Illinois, 19. Ohio State, 20. Baylor, 21. Colorado, 22. Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley Conference), 23. Marquette (Big East Conference), 24. Eastern Michigan (Mid-American Conference), 25. Cleveland State (Horizon League), 26. Loyola-Maryland (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), 27. Sacred Heart (Northeast Conference) *conference name in parentheses denotes automatic qualifier by winning conference championship

Individuals competing (in order of seed): 1. Chris Baker, Iowa State, 2. Clayton Rask, Minnesota, 3. Josh Sandman, Notre Dame, 4. Victor Almstrom, Minnesota, 5. Brent Long, Western Kentucky, 6. Jordan Weber, Northern Iowa

Format: 54 holes (18 each day). Each team has five players, with the low four individual scores each day counting toward the team total. The top 10 teams and two individuals not on those teams after 54 holes advance to the 111th NCAA Men’s Division I Championship May 28-31 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (all times local) Wednesday, May 14 – practice rounds from 8 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. in order of seed, beginning with top seed Thursday, May 15 – first round, play begins at 7 a.m. from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees – last group at 1:43 p.m. (Georgia Tech will tee off at 11:30 a.m. from the No. 1 tee) Friday, May 16 – second round, play begins at 7 a.m. from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees – last group at 1:37 p.m. (Georgia Tech will tee off at 7 a.m. from the No. 10 tee) Saturday, May 17 – third and final round, play begins at 7 a.m. from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees – last group at 1:37 p.m. (leaders tee off early, tee times based on 36-hole standing)

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