May 28, 2002
ATLANTA– – The top-ranked Georgia Tech men’s golf team will look to build on three top-four finishes in the last four years and capture the program’s first national championship when it travels to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the NCAA Championships at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. The venue’s par-71, 7,236-yard layout will host the championships and the 30 teams and six individuals that qualified from regional play two weeks ago. The course will be a familiar one for the Yellow Jackets, who competed in the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitational at the same site in the fall.
“After getting through the regional and tying with Clemson for the win there, we’re looking forward to going up to Columbus and the Scarlet Course this week,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler. “Seven times this year that we’ve beaten a field like this to win, so our guys have a lot of confidence. If they play like they’re capable, there is no reason we can’t go into the last round having a chance to win. Also, we played this course in the fall at The Preview so our guys have a good feel for what to expect from this course”
The Yellow Jackets captured their fourth NCAA East Regional title in program history in Roswell, Ga., two weeks ago, sharing the team crown with second-ranked Clemson. The win was Tech?s seventh of the year, extending its school-record total during the 2001-02 season. The regional win followed a win at the ACC Championship on April 21. The Jackets will headline a field that includes 20 of the top 25 teams in the nation and 22 of the top 25 individuals in the country. Tech has held the number one spot in all four major golf polls for much of the year, based primarily on its seven team titles, including a stretch of four in a row earlier in the spring. The seven wins are the most by an ACC team since the NCAA began limiting playing dates in the early 1990s.
Tech has found a good deal of success in recent years in the NCAA Championships, finishing fourth and second in the last two years and posting 10 top-10 finishes in its history. The fourth-place finish came a year ago and the second-place showing was in 2000, as the Jackets fell in a playoff to Oklahoma State, with both teams finishing the 72-hole event at an NCAA-record 36-under-par, 1116. That marked the second time that Tech had been the runner-up in the event, matching the finish of the 1993 team.
Georgia Tech?s lineup will remain the same as it has for each of the last nine tournaments, as junior Troy Matteson, senior Kris Mikkelsen, senior Matt Weibring and freshmen Chan Wongluekiet and Nick Thompson will make up the Yellow Jacket contingent. One of the most solid starting fives in the nation, all five players are ranked among the nation?s top-32 individuals and all boast scoring averages below 73.00. Tech has three players ranked in the nation?s top 15, including Matteson (7th), Mikkelsen (14th) and Weibring (15th), while only one other team (Texas) has three players ranked in the top 50.
The efforts of the team have not gone unnoticed, as the Jackets placed three players on the All-ACC team, with Matteson earning the honor for the second-straight year and Mikkelsen and Weibring each being named to the team for the first time. Along with those honors, freshman Chan Wongluekiet became the third Tech player to be named ACC Rookie of the Year, joining Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder and head coach Bruce Heppler earned Coach of the Year accolades for the third time.
Tee times for the NCAA Championship will begin at 7 a.m. each day and Tech will be grouped with Central Regional champ Oklahoma State and West Regional champ New Mexico in the first two rounds, teeing off at noon in the first round and 7 a.m. in the second round. Live scoring of the event can be found at www.golfstatlive.com, with full recaps of the Yellow Jackets? performance each day appearing at www.ramblinwreck.com.