June 4, 2010
Ooltewah, Tenn. – After trailing in all five individual matches in the middle of Friday’s quarterfinal round, Georgia Tech fell short on a furious rally over the last six holes and dropped a 3-2 decision to Augusta State and were eliminated from the NCAA Division I Golf Championship.
The Jaguars advanced to Saturday’s semifinals to face Florida State, a 4-1 winner over Texas Tech. Top-seeded Oklahoma State, a 4-1 winner over Stanford Friday, will meet Oregon, which defeated Washington, 3-2. The winners of Saturday’s matches will meet for the national championship at 12 noon Sunday.
Four of the five matches between the two teams went the full 18 holes despite the fact that Tech trailed by three holes or more in three of them on the back nine. The Yellow Jackets, who finished third in the stroke-play part of the championship, made eight birdies and only one bogey over the final six holes, coming within one 10-foot putt at 18 of sending the deciding contest to extra holes.
“We made a lot of birdies coming in, but we just got a little bit behind,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “They played very well, just came up a little short. We played our best golf at the end of the year, which at the start of the year is your goal. Your objective outside of that we thought was to win the tournament. We came close today, but not quite.”
Paul Haley, who was first out of the gate for the Yellow Jackets, stood three holes down with seven to play. But the junior from Dallas, Texas, made birdie at 13 and 17 to get within one of Carter Newman before halving the last hole, giving Newman a 1-up victory. Haley had led Tech during stroke play with a 4-under-par score of 212, tying for ninth place.
Kyle Scott overcame a three-hole deficit with six to play, winning the final three holes to score a 1-up victory over Taylor Floyd. He made birdie at the par-4 13th, the par-3 16th and the par-4 17th to square the match, then closed it out with a half at 18.
That win actually put the Jackets ahead, 2-1. Sophomore James White had won his match 2 and 1 over Mitch Krywulyck, the only match not to reach the 18th hole, by making birdie at 16 and 17.
Hadley, a senior playing his final day in a Yellow Jacket uniform, was in a tight struggle with Patrick Reed throughout the match. Reed edged ahead one hole with a birdie at the par-3 14th and never gave up the lead after that. They came to 18 with Hadley needing a birdie to try and force extra holes. He rolled in a 30-footer downhill to put the heat on Reed, but the Jaguar sophomore answered with a 15-foot birdie to halve the hole and win the match, 1-up.
With the match now tied 2-2, Griffin made birdie to win at 17 and came to 18 down only one hole to Henrik Norlander after he had trailed by four with six to play. Both players put their tee shots in the middle of the fairway. After Norlander hit his approach to 20 feet above the hole, the Tech junior landed his 10 feet below the hole. But his birdie attempt slid just right, handing the match to Norlander, 1-up, and a 3-2 victory to the Jaguars.
Despite being on the wrong end of the score, Heppler felt it was a good example in support of using match play to decide the championship.
“If you were to ask the guys that played it, it is better than what we were doing,” he said. “Everybody gets it, and knew what is going on. You see everybody in there, but we were just on the wrong end of it this time. It is a positive thing for the tournament. Hopefully, it will bode well with addition attention and coverage as people start to follow it more.”