ATLANTA (April 6) – Georgia Tech’s No. 1-ranked golf team led by all-America performers Matt Kuchar (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Bryce Molder (Conway, Ark.) swing back into action this weekend at the Compaq U.S. Collegiate Championships at Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico.
The 54-hole event begins Friday with 18 holes at the 7,050-yard, par 72 Eldorado Country Club, continues with 27 holes Saturday and the final nine holes Sunday. Saturday’s play will be televised live from 12 noon to 2 p.m. on ESPN, with Sunday’s conclusion aired on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN2.
Tech has been ranked No. 1 for five straight weeks in the Mastercard Collegiate Rankings, and also holds the top spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. The Yellow Jackets won their first two spring events, taking the Waikoloa Intercollegiate by eight strokes and the San Juan Shootout by four. Tech finished tied for fourth, one shot out of a three-team playoff, at the Las Vegas Intercollegiate on Mar. 10-12.
The U.S. Collegiate field includes 11 teams ranked in the nation’s top 19 teams, including No. 11 Arizona, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 2 Clemson, No. 17 Florida, No. 4 Georgia, No. 10 Houston, No. 16 Kent State, No. 8 UNLV, No. 3 Northwestern and No. 7 Oklahoma State, as well as No. 38 TCU.
“This will be like an NCAA championship,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “This is probably the best field we’ve played by a team or two. Las Vegas had most of the same teams.”
Kuchar, a senior who is Tech’s current stroke average leader at 70.22, is the nation’s top-ranked individual in the Mastercard ratings, while Molder, a junior, is ranked No. 4 and has a 70.61 norm. They have finished in the top 20 of every event in which they have participated, and rank No. 1 and 2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in stroke average.
Kuchar has returned to his top-level performance of two years ago, finishing in the top 10 in six of seven tournaments this year. He and Molder were co-medalists at Waikoloa (6-under-par 208), and he tied for fourth at San Juan (4-under-par) and tied for seventh at Las Vegas (5-under). Molder has finished in the top 10 in five events, including a tie for eighth at San Juan. He tied for 17th at Las Vegas.
“Matt has enough time to do what he needs to do now,” said Heppler of Kuchar, who is scheduled to graduate in May. “The requests for his time are reasonable now, and his academic load makes sense.
“Bryce put some pressure on himself at Las Vegas, trying to win the tournament. Like Matt, he wants to be the national player of the year. But he’s worked the last few weeks focusing on playing a shot and a hole at a time. He realizes he can’t force things.”
Freshman Troy Matteson (Austin, Texas) and senior Carlton Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) will join Kuchar and Molder on the trip. Matteson, who has three top-20 finishes in seven events and a 72.95 average, came on strong at Las Vegas, opening with a 67 and finishing in a tie for 17th at 3-under-par 213. Forrester, who has two top 20 finishes and a 73.12 average, posted his best score of the spring at Las Vegas (1-under 215).
“Troy is getting more and more comfortable,” said Heppler. “I feel Carlton is on the verge of playing his best golf. Those four together have really distinguished themselves from the rest this spring. They have played the best at home and on the road.”
Sophomore Matt Weibring (Plano, Texas)won the fifth spot this week out of qualifying rounds in competition with sophomoreKris Mikkelsen (Woodstock, Ga.), freshman Adam Cranford (Augusta, Ga.) and junior Wes Latimer (Woodstock, Ga.). Weibring, who has a stroke average of 73.25 in four events, has played in one event this spring, finishing four over par at the Las Vegas Intercollegiate.