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Fifth-ranked Golf Team Opens Spring in Hawaii

Feb. 5, 2008

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team, which heads into the spring season ranked fifth in the nation, opens its spring season Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the UH-Hilo Intercollegiate on the Big Island in Hawai’i.

The Yellow Jackets have begun their spring season in this event each of the last 10 years, and have won the tournament five times, most recently in 2006 when All-American Cameron Tringale, then a freshman, earned his first collegiate tournament victory.

Three teams ranked among the nation’s top 10, and nine of the top 50, are entered in the 18-team field, which will play 54 holes on the Waikoloa Village Golf Course, a par-71, 6,687-yard layout. Among the teams entered are No. 7 Southern California, No. 9 and defending national champion Stanford, and No. 16 Texas Tech.

The second round is scheduled for Thursday, and the final round Friday. No live stats are available online.

Tech finished fourth last year in this event while recording its lowest score of the year, a 22-under-par total of 818. Tringale tied for fifth at 9-under-par 201, and Chesson Hadley, making his collegiate debut, tied for 18th at 5-under-par 205.

“I’ve always looked at this one as a bit of a reward for the guys,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “Where else can you play right now where the weather is that good? It’s a good field. You get a chance to play in some wind, and you learn how to hit some different shots. We go out there with the mindset of winning, and we’ve had a lot of success that way.”

Heppler is optimistic about the Yellow Jackets following a strong fall season in which his team turned in one runner-up finish and two third-place showings in four team events.

The team’s 108-hole qualifying tournament, which determined the five players who will suit up for Tech in Hawai’i, brought about a couple of surprises. Tringale, a junior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Hadley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., are on the travel squad as expected. Also making the trip are David Dragoo, a junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., Paul Haley, a red-shirt freshman from Dallas, Texas., and Daniel Bowden, a sophomore from Easley, S.C.

Competition was stiff in qualifying. Bowden and Hadley made the travel team by one shot over red-shirt freshman John Tyler Griffin, two over junior Taylor Hall and three over junior Adam Cohan.

“That’s what you hope to foster the way we do things,” Heppler said. “There’s always a chance to earn your way into the team for a trip. That’s how you build depth. We don’t have any seniors, and these nine guys are gong to compete for spots the next year and a half. If you don’t play well, you don’t get to go. You want your fifth guy to get there by playing well. It was a great qualifying tournament, and guys can learn from that.”

Hadley, an honorable mention All-American as a freshman, enters the spring ranked fourth nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index after a stellar fall in which he won the Carpet Capital Collegiate and finished in the top 10 of Tech’s other two stroke-play events. Hadley averaged 70.08 strokes over 12 fall rounds to lead the team.

Tringale, a two-time second-team All-American, had one top-10 finish, at the Brickyard Collegiate, and posted the team’s third-best stroke average of 73.00. Haley is the only other traveling player this week to have played in every fall event, posting a 74.33 stroke average in the fall with a high finish of 23rd at the Carpet Capital Collegiate.

Dragoo played in three events, missing only the Isleworth-UCF Collegiate, and averaged 74.67 over nine rounds. Bowden played twice as an individual, averaging 76.17 over six rounds.

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