Feb. 19, 2018
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – Senior Chris Petefish carded a 1-under-par 70 Monday, while two other Yellow Jackets scored even par as No. 7 Georgia Tech posted a 2-over-par 286 and moved into the lead after 36 holes at the 26th Puerto Rico Classic, which is being played at the Ocean Course at the Rio Mar Resort and Spa. The Jackets are looking for their sixth victory in this event, and their third victory of the year.
TECH LINEUP – The Yellow Jackets handled difficult conditions, in which high winds raised the overall scoring average two strokes over Sunday’s opening round, better than the rest of the field Monday, with Petefish (70), freshman Noah Norton (71) and sophomore Tyler Strafaci (71) all equaling or breaking par. Sophomore Andy Ogletree (74) provided the Jackets fourth counting score.
After amassing 25 birdies Sunday, the Jackets could only manage 11 Monday.
Petefish (Danville, Calif.), with four birdies and three bogeys on his card, kept pace with the individual leaders, and his 4-under-par total of 138 is three shots off the lead. Norton (Chico, Calif.) is tied for sixth at 3-under 139, while Strafaci is tied for 10th at 2-under 140. Norton, Strafaci and Ogletree each had three birdies on his card.
Sophomore Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) did not count for Tech Monday after posting a 75.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Georgia Tech’s solid performance Monday allowed the Yellow Jackets, who have a 36-hole total of 562 (-6), a five-stroke cushion on Purdue, the host team. The Boilermakers shot 290 Monday and are the only other team under par through 36 holes at 567 (-1). No. 8 Oklahoma, the first-round leader, shot 296 Monday and is tied for third place with No. 16 Clemson and No. 35 NC State at 570 (+2). Only the Tigers were able to match Tech’s 286 score Monday.
Top-ranked Alabama, a six-time winner in Puerto Rico, is alone in sixth place at 578 (+10), followed by Middle Tennessee State (579, +11) and Georgia (580 (+12). Eight of the 15 teams in the field are ranked in the top 50 nationally.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Alabama junior Lee Hodges took over the lead after 36 holes, coupling his opening 67 with a 68 on Monday for a tournament score of 135 (-7). He has a one-shot lead over NC State’s Stephen Franken, who faded from his opening 62 to a 74 Monday and stands at 136 (-6). Purdue’s Brian Carlson holds third place by himself at 137 (-5).
Petefish, Norton and Strafaci are all among the top 10 individuals. Petefish is tied for fourth with Clemson’s Turk Pettit at 138 (-4), while Norton is in a group of four players tied for sixth at 139 (-3), and Strafaci is alone in 10th place at 140 (-2).
COACH Bruce Heppler SAID – “This was a big test today with the winds up to about 20 miles per hour, and only a few holes on this golf course are downwind. We handled it pretty well, and it was a really good day for us playing against the defending national champions and going toe to toe with them. They’re beginning to feel like they’re in the game. It’s all about the next shot, just concentrate on that. For the sixth time this year, we’re going to start in the last groups on the final day, and that’s something to be happy about.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its 26th appearance in the Puerto Rico Classic, typically the second event on the Yellow Jackets’ spring schedule after its opening trip to Hawai’i, having participated in every renewal of this tournament. The 54-hole event runs through Tuesday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. each day. Normally played at the River Course at Rio Mar Beach and Spa Resort, the event is being contest this year at the 6,716-yard, par 71 Ocean Course due to lingering damage from last summer’s hurricane season.
Eight of the 15 teams in the field are ranked among the nation’s top 50 in the Golfstat rankings – Alabama (1), Georgia Tech (3), Oklahoma (9), Clemson (17), Kentucky (18), Marquette (33), NC State (37), Northwestern (44), Purdue (52), Middle Tennessee (73), Virginia Tech (76), Maryland (77), East Carolina (79), Georgia (93), UNC Greensboro (116).
The Yellow Jackets finished third in last year’s Puerto Rico Classic, with then-freshman Luke Schniederjans taking home medalist honors for his second collegiate victory of the year. Tech has won the event five times and finished second six times. Seven Jackets have earned medalist honors, including Mikko Rantanen (1994), Stewart Cink (1995), Matt Kuchar (1998), Troy Matteson (2002), Roberto Castro (2007) and James White (2011) prior to Schniederjans’ triumph last spring.