May 31, 2007
Williamsburg, Va. – If playing in the morning on the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s greens gives it an advantage, then Georgia Tech has its wish for Friday’s third round of the NCAA Division I Golf Championship. The Yellow Jackets shot a 5-under-par 275, the best round of the day, to assure itself an early tee time on Friday.
The Yellow Jackets, paced by a 3-under 67 from freshman Chesson Hadley and a 68 from Cameron Tringale in Thursday’s second round, grabbed a share of sixth place after 36 holes after beginning the day in a tie for 20th.
Tech played the front nine in 5-under-par Thursday, then held steady in the more difficult back nine on the 6,803-yard, par 70 Gold Course. The key, said head coach Bruce Heppler, was avoiding trouble on the early holes, unlike Wednesday’s first round. Tech played the first two holes 5-over-par, but quickly made up for that with three birdies at the par-3 third. Hadley and Larsen both eagled the par-5 sixth, while Tringale and Castro each made birdie.
“You figure it’s not going to get any easier (after the first round), but we thought if we can shoot 5-under two days in a row, we can be back in the tournament,” said Heppler. “We were up here in March, and we felt like we could shoot 5- or 6-under out here. It’s doable. We giddied up our attitudes, and we came out here today and made some putts.”
Stanford maintained its first-round lead with a 2-under 278, finishing 36 holes at 7-under-par 553, one shot ahead of surprising Minnesota, which had the day’s next best score of 276 to stand at 6-under 554 for the championship. Coastal Carolina, which had a terrific round going before settling back to a 1-over 281, is in third place at 2-under-par, while East Tennessee State was in fourth place at even par for the tournament, and Charlotte was in fifth at 2-over-par.
Tech is tied at 3-over par with UCLA (even-par 280 on Thursday), meaning it will get the 7:20 a.m. tee time for the third round with ETSU and Charlotte. The field will trimmed to the top 15 teams for the final round Saturday.
Alabama (3-over for the round), top-seeded Georgia (9-over) and Tulsa (11-over), teeing off just ahead of Tech, all experienced poor starts to their rounds and lost ground to the leaders. The Crimson Tide found itself in 10th, while Georgia fell all the eight spots to a tie for 16th, and Tulsa dropped from 12th to a tie for 22nd.
“You can putt better in the mornings here,” said Heppler, whose team was one of three to break par in the morning wave. “This morning they’re smooth, and they’re as fast as they’re doing to be, so I think you’d rather play in the morning. They roll about a foot and a half faster in the morning.”
Tringale, tied for third place at 5-under-par 135, was solid throughout Thursday’s round, posting four birdies and a pair of bogeys in his round. It was his seventh sub-par round in his last eight dating back to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in April.
“We needed a good round to get some momentum after the last two days. We’re only halfway done, so a lot of things can change,” Tringale said. “My putting has felt pretty good the last two months, so I felt like if I could get it on the greens (here), I had a good chance of making birdies.”
Tringale is in a group of four players three shots behind Bronson LaCassie of Minnesota, who added a 65 to his opening 67 for an 8-under-par total of 132. Jon Curran of Vanderbilt is in second place at 6-under 134.
Hadley overcame a rough start – a bogey at No. 1 and a double-bogey at 2 – finishing his front nine with a birdie-2 at the par-3 third hole and an eagle at the par-5 sixth. The Raleigh, N.C., native then made four birdies on the back nine before finishing with a bogey, and moved into a large group of players at 1-under-par 139 for 36 holes, tied for 14th place.
Castro, meanwhile, birdied three of four holes in one stretch on the front nine. Larsen mixed in an eagle at No. 6 with a pair of bogeys and a double bogey in the front nine, then birdied three holes with one bogey coming in.
“I don’t think you’d see much different if you had watched us yesterday to today, just a few more putts went in,” said Castro, who was named a co-winner of the Byron Nelson Award on Tuesday. “Luckily after yesterday we weren’t too far out of it.
“At least we have a chance now. That was the key (turning at 5-under). The front side is a lot easier. You can give it all back on 10, 11 and 12. When I came around and saw we were still under, that was good.”