Jackets Tee Off Early in NCAA East Regional

May 18, 2011

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Radford, Va. – Georgia Tech, ranked 2nd in the nation in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and 4th in the Golfstat rankings, is the top seed in the NCAA East Regional, May 19-21 at the Pete Dye River Course in Blacksburg, Va., where the Yellow Jackets will work to earn their 25th trip to the NCAA Finals.

The Jackets, who earned an automatic berth by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last month, is playing in an NCAA regional for the 14th straight year and for the 20th time in the 22 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship. They are part of a regional field that includes 13 teams and 10 individuals at Blacksburg.

Tech will tee off at 8 a.m. Thursday and 9:10 a.m. Friday. Saturday’s final round tee times are determined by 36-hole standing.

This is the first time the Yellow Jackets have played a competition in the state of Virginia since the 2004 NCAA Finals in Hot Springs. The Pete Dye River Course is a par 72 layout that can play as long as 7,685 yards.

“The course is very good, outstanding,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “It’s in great shape. You have to drive it straight. The greens are good, but small. Driving will be at a premium, and you have to hit good iron shots to make birdies. It’s a very fair golf course that can identify good players. I think we can play very well here. We can drive the fairway, we’ve gotten in a tremendous amount of chipping in.”

The full Virginia Tech Regional field, in order of seed, includes Georgia Tech, LSU, Duke, Virginia, Oklahoma, Kent State (automatic qualifier from the Mid-American Conference), Virginia Tech, Mississippi, East Carolina, UNC Wilmington (automatic qualifier from the Colonial Athletic Association), Coastal Carolina, Lamar and Yale (automatic qualifier from the Ivy League).

In all, 81 teams and 45 individuals are completing for spots in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, which will take place May 31-June 5 at the Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. The other five regional tournaments are being held at the Omni Tucson National Resort in Tucson, Ariz. (Texas A&M), the Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, Colo. (Oklahoma State), the Golden Ocala Golf Club in Ocala, Fla. (Florida), Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Ind. (Alabama), and The Farms Golf Course in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (UCLA).

Each regional is a 54-hole, stroke-play event with 13 teams and 10 individials, or 14 teams and five individuals, competing. The top five teams after 54 holes and one individual not on those teams in each regional advance to the NCAA finals, which is being conducted on the home course of top-ranked Oklahoma State.

Tech’s NCAA Regional History

Georgia Tech has failed to advance through an NCAA regional only once in 20 tries (the Yellow Jackets did not receive bids in 1996 and 1997). Heppler’s teams have won two regional tournaments outright, in 1998 in Daufuskie Island, S.C., and 1999 in Providence, R.I., and shared the 2002 title with Clemson in Roswell, Ga.

Among Tech’s current players, John-Tyler Griffin has a T11 and a T3 finish in the last two years in NCAA regional competition. Paul Haley tied for 41st last year in Alpharetta, but shot a 68 in the final round to help the Jackets finish third at the Capital City Club-Crabapple. James White has a T39 and a T23 in his two NCAA regional appearances, and Kyle Scott tied for 30th last year in his only try.

About Georgia Tech

> Georgia Tech, ranked fourth in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and No. 5 in the Golfstat rankings, will field the same five players for this week’s NCAA East Regional that it has used in seven of its eight team events this year.

> Junior James White, seniors John-Tyler Griffin, Kyle Scott and Paul Haley, and freshman Richard Werenski each have at least two top-10 finishes this year, and the fivesome has combined for 25 top-10s and six other top-20s.

> All five of Tech’s players rank among the nation’s top 150 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index – Griffin is No. 9, Scott is No. 12, White is No. 17, Haley is No. 54, and Werenski is No. 142.

> Griffin (71.2), Scott (71.5) and White (71.6) each rank among the ACC’s top 10 in stroke average and are a collective 2-under-par in 81 total rounds. Add in Haley (72.6) and Werenski (73.6), and Tech’s starting five is a combined 2-over-par in 136 rounds.

> Haley, Scott and Griffin have finished 1-2-3 individually in each of Tech’s last two events – the ACC Championship and the Yellow Jacket Classic.

> The Yellow Jackets’ average drop (non-counting) score is 75.17, the best figure in the nation.

> Tech has won three events this year, capturing the ACC Championship by 20 shots in its most recent outing. The Yellow Jackets also won the United States Collegiate Championship at the end of the fall season by 27 shots over top-ranked UCLA and the Yellow Jacket Classic in early April by 19 shots over UNC Wilmington. Tech has finished lower than fifth only twice in 11 events. Tech was a runner-up at the Puerto Rico Classic, third at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and fourth at both the Brickyard Collegiate and Amer Ari Invitational.

> Tech went 3-1 and finished fifth at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship.

> Three different Tech players have won a tournament this year, the first time that has happened since the 1992-93 season (David Duval, Stewart Cink, Jason Walters). Tech’s winners this year include Paul Haley (ACC, Yellow Jacket Classic), James White (USCC, Puerto Rico Classic) and Seth Reeves (Grub Mart Collegiate).

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