May 29, 2011
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, ranked 2nd in the nation in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and 4th in the Golfstat rankings, have made it to the NCAA Championship finals for the 25th time in program history and for the 24th time since 1985.
The Yellow Jackets, who earned an automatic berth in the regionals by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last month, advanced through the NCAA East Regional at Virginia Tech, finishing second at the Pete Dye River Course with a 5-over-par total of 869. The East Regional was the only one of the six regionals in which no team finished under par for the weekend.
The NCAA Finals begins with a 54-hole stroke-play tournament, which runs from Tuesday through Thursday, after which the top eight finishers will be seeded for the match-play championship that begins Friday, June 3. In the two years the NCAA has used the match-play format, Tech missed the cut (tied for 10th place) in 2009 and advanced (3rd-place finish) last year. The Yellow Jackets lost in the quarterfinals, 3-2, to Augusta State.
Tech is the No. 4 seed, which means it will play the first two rounds of stroke play with 5th seed Florida and 6th seed Augusta State, the defending national champion. The Jackets begin play at 1:40 p.m. Eastern time from the first tee Tuesday, and tee off at 8:20 a.m. ET from the 10th tee Wednesday. Third-round tee times are based on team standings.
The NCAA Finals are being played at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., the home course of top-ranked Oklahoma State, which measures 7,403 yards and plays to a par of 72. The finals were last held at Karsten Creek in 2003, and Tech tied for 11th place.
The field of 30 teams is made up of five qualifiers from each of last year’s six regional tournaments: Duke, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, LSU and Kent State from the East; Florida, Augusta State, Kennesaw State, NC State and Arkansas from the Southeast; Michigan, Illinois, Alabama, Tennessee and Iowa from the Central; Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Northwestern, Georgia and Arizona State from the South Central; UCLA, Southern California, San Diego, Ohio State and Texas from the West; and San Diego State, Texas A&M, California, Pepperdine and Arizona from the Southwest.
There are four teams from the state of Georgia in the field – Tech, Georgia, defending NCAA champion Augusta State and Kennesaw State. There are three teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference – Tech, Duke and NC State.
Four of Five Jackets Back from 2010 Run
Georgia Tech lost only one player from last year’s team that finished third in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championship and lost to Augusta State in the match-play quarterfinals.
The Yellow Jackets finished with an 6-under-par total of 858, eight shots behind Oklahoma State. Only Chesson Hadley, who tied for 14th in stroke play and lost his match to the Jaguars, graduated from that team.
In stroke play, Paul Haley tied for 9th to earn honorable mention All-America honors, John-Tyler Griffin tied for 25th, and James White and Kyle Scott tied for 72nd. Scott and White each won their matches against Augusta State.
Tech’s NCAA Championship History
Georgia Tech reached the NCAA Finals 24 times since 1985, a number surpassed by only three schools in that period, and has posted seven top-8 finishes in the last 11 tries. The Yellow Jackets tied for 10th in the first-year of the 54-hole stroke-play/match-play format, then finished third last year before falling to Augusta State, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship four times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005), more than any team in the history of the championship except Houston, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Texas and Wake Forest, who also have four. In 1993 and 2002, the Yellow Jackets led after 54 holes, but finished second by one shot to Florida in 1993, and by four shots to Minnesota in 2002.
Georgia Tech, ranked 2nd in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index and No. 4 in the Golfstat rankings, will field the same five players for this week’s NCAA Championship that it has used in nine of its 10 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 27 top-10s and seven other top-20s.
All five of Tech’s players rank among the nation’s top 140 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index – Scott is No. 8, Griffin is No. 11, White is No. 14, Haley is No. 68, and Werenski is No. 139.
Griffin (71.41), Scott (71.41) and White (71.52) rank 2-3-6 in the ACC in stroke average and are a collective 2-under-par in 81 total rounds. Add in Haley (72.9) and Werenski (73.8), and Tech’s starting five is a combined 1-over-par in 151 rounds.
Haley, Scott and Griffin finished 1-2-3 individually in the ACC Championship and the Yellow Jacket Classic. Scott also tied for 2nd at the NCAA East Regional. making it three straight runner-up finishes for the senior from South Africa.
The Yellow Jackets’ average drop (non-counting) score is 75.09, 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 5th 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).