Sept. 10, 2009
ATLANTA – With some fresh faces making the travel squad out of team qualifying, Georgia Tech’s golf team opens its fall schedule this weekend with the 21st annual Carpet Capital Collegiate tournament at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.
Twelve teams, including 4th-ranked Alabama, No. 19 Clemson, No. 3 Georgia, No. 15 South Carolina and No. 18 Tennessee, tee off Friday morning on the 6,896-yard, par 72 Tom Fazio-designed layout, playing 54 holes over three days. The Yellow Jackets have won this event six times, but not since 2001.
Head coach Bruce Heppler, beginning his 15th season at Tech, has five returning letterwinners from the squad that won last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship and tied for 10th at the NCAA Championship, but only two of those players will be on the van that travels up I-75 this weekend.
In the team’s qualifying tournament which concluded Monday, sophomore Minghao Wang of Reunion, Fla., completed the 108 holes in 5-under-par to capture the No. 1 position, followed by junior John-Tyler Griffin of Wilson, N.C. (-4), junior Paul Haley of Dallas, Texas (-2), junior Kyle Scott of Edenglen, South Africa (+2) and freshman Bo Andrews of Raleigh, N.C. (+3).
“I’m very pleased with the scores that it took for the guys to get to travel,” said Heppler, whose team closed with 36 holes Monday at the Golf Club of Georgia. “The better you play to get to go usually means the better you play when you get there. We’ve talked about push and depth for a while now, and maybe now it has happened.”
Wang, who played in six events a year ago and logged one top-20 finish at the Isleworth-UCF Intercollegiate, carried over some good play from a strong summer. Griffin, whose 74.00 stroke average last year is tops among the Jackets’ returning players, is playing in his 17th consecutive event. Haley, who had one top-10 finish and a 75.10 stroke average as a freshman, didn’t qualify to play in an event last year but charged out of the gate in team qualifying with a 64 at East Lake Golf Club.
Scott, a two-time Division II All-American at West Florida, and Andrews, a highly-ranked junior player from Raleigh, N.C., made the most of their first chance to make the travel team.
“Anytime new guys come in they are at a disadvantage from knowing the golf courses. Kyle and Bo did a great job of learning quickly and playing well enough to go,” said Heppler. “Paul shot a 64 at East Lake. He’s got some bounce back in his step, and feels good about what he’s doing. He’s working very hard and gotten some results out of it.
“Ming was disappointed in not playing in the post-season. He’s worked very hard this summer and played really well.”
Tech had a pair of top-10 finishers in last year’s Carpet Capital Collegiate – Cameron Tringale and David Dragoo, but finished 11th in the team standings. Tringale and Dragoo have both graduated, and Tech’s only current senior, 2008 All-American Chesson Hadley, will miss this event for the second straight year after winning it in 2007.