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Golf Graduates to Remain Amateurs, Pursue Graduate Degrees

May 5, 2006

ATLANTA – Like the public service announcements say, most student-athletes turn professional in something other than sports. So it will be for Georgia Tech golfers Mike Barbosa and Thomas Jordan once their senior years conclude.

Both Yellow Jackets will receive bachelor’s degrees in Management in Tech commencement exercises Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. It marks the end of highly successful academic careers for both, and neither player has any plans to try to play for pay once they leave the Flats.

Barbosa has made the ACC’s Academic Honor Roll all four of his years at Tech (including a red-shirt year in 2001-02) and likely will do so again this year. Jordan has made the team twice and is on pace for a third honor.

After his red-shirt year, Barbosa, a first-team junior All-American prior to his enrollment, played in only three events during his red-shirt freshman year and had mixed success during the fall of his sophomore year. Since then, the St. Petersburg, Fla., native has not missed one event Tech has played, recorded 14 top-20 finishes along the way and posted a stroke average around 73 over than period.

He earned all-ACC honors last year for the first time, and was recognized as an All-America Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association of America. He also captured the title at the 2004 Cardinal Amateur, one of the premier amateur events in the nation.

One of the nation’s top juniors from Sea Island, Ga., Jordan had a solid freshman year, posting a pair of top-20 finishes, including a tie for fifth at the ACC Championship, in 11 events. He tied for third at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Classic in the second event of his sophomore year, but had not been able to consistently reach that level of success since. He has played but one event this year, that as an individual.

Their golf careers at Tech have taken different paths, but their post-graduate plans are not dissimilar. Barbosa plans to play a full amateur schedule this summer, hoping to compete in the U.S. Amateur at the end, and is working toward going to law school. Jordan, whose golf will be of a recreational nature, has plans for pursuing a Master’s degree in business administration after working the next couple of years.

Following is a conversation with both players about their futures and their experiences at Georgia Tech.

To Jordan: What are your immediate plans?

“Right now, I need to get out of the house right now and try to find a job. I’m looking around town (Atlanta) and other places as well. There’s no real time crunch. My parents are OK right now with me using home as my base for looking. But they don’t want me sitting around threw all summer.

To Jordan: What is your long term goal?

“To find a job, work for a couple of years, then go to graduate school, an MBA most likely. I want to find something that helps me go to grad school, do it in segments.”

To Jordan: What have you done during the summers to help you prepare for this path?

“I worked for the Sea Island Company, did an internship with them last summer. We usually play amateur golf throughout the summer, so it’s kind of tough for us to have a chance to get good work experience. Last summer, that wasn’t the case for me. I could still work and play golf at the same time.”

To Jordan: What are your plans for golf?

“I’m pretty much hanging them up right now. It’s pretty much going to be recreational, maybe playing some amateur tournaments every now and then. My Dad’s a member at Sea Island. When I’m home, that’s where I play.

“Golf will really help you in the business world. If I stay here in Atlanta, having played at Tech will help me at least start a conversation.”

To Jordan: You started out well here, but haven’t played much the last couple of years. Are there any regrets with the way your golf career has turned out?

“I don’t think so, at all. I enjoyed playing when I did, but when I wasn’t, I enjoyed rooting the other guys on. I`ve seen both sides. I found I could still be happy not traveling with the team all the time. When I showed up, I was more athletically focused and school was something I had to do to play golf. Then I realized I may have to work for a living someday. But the best thing about being here is you get a good education, and you can play a sport at the same time.”

To Barbosa: Are you planning on remaining an amateur player?

“As of right now, my plan is to most likely remain an amateur the rest of my life. I’m going to play a full amateur schedule this summer, hopefully through the U.S. Amateur. My plan is to remain an amateur, but I’m not closing any doors.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of years, playing amateur golf across the country. A lot of it is lifestyle. Being on the PGA Tour is a great way to make a living. It’s glamorous, and it comes with a tremendous amount of benefits. But I don’t know if I want to travel the road to get there, which can be long and arduous, and many times you don’t make it. So there are other options to think about. Right now, I’m leaning toward pursuing more education the next few years.”

To Barbosa: What field would you pursue?

“I’m thinking about going to law school. I’m studying for the LSAT now, and hopefully I’ll take that in June, then go from there once I see how the test goes. That would be something I’d really enjoy doing.”

To Barbosa: Do you feel like you could devote enough time to playing amateur golf to be successful on a national level (as alumnus Carlton Forrester did in finishing second at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last summer)?

“We’re both very competitive. Whatever we try to do, we’re both going to want to be extremely successful, and that’s going to require a large portion of our time. So that’s going to take priority over golf. If I could play six to eight major amateur tournaments and establish myself as a national amateur or mid-amateur, that would be great. But the first thing you have to do is be successful in your career. People like Carlton Forrester are ones I really look up to because of their ability to be successful (in their careers) and remain competitive. It’s very admirable.”

To Barbosa: What will you remember most about your time at Tech?

“The two things I’ll remember in golf will be finishing runner-up for the national championship last year and winning the ACC Championship this year. We have two more chances to surpass those. The thing I’ll remember most are spending time with the other guys on our team, from the ones who preceded me, to the guys I played with, to the quality guys on our team now. Spending time with people like these, stand out above the accomplishments that we had.”

To Jordan: How about you?

“The things we’ve done on the golf course are pretty special. But being with the guys on the team, everyone that has come through the program, the ones we were with briefly when we got here to the ones we’ve recruited for next year. That’s the big thing, building relationships and friendships, with Coach Heppler, Vicky (Newman) and (former assistant coach) Brandon (Goethals).

To both: What does it mean to you as members of the team to have recognition given to the program like that from Golf Digest last summer (top program in the United States)?

Jordan – “This past summer, I was at the dentist’s office and saw a Golf Digest on the table in the waiting room. It had a golf preview, so I picked it up and looked at it. We were ranked No. 1, and I called home right away to tell my parents. That is great for the pride we feel playing for Georgia Tech, helping to bring people here. It’s a great testament to those who played here before us. It speaks a lot for the guys who have played here, the coaches and the boosters who support us. That really means a lot.”

Barbosa – “We put so much emphasis here on doing things right way, making good grades, excelling on the golf course. To receive that kind of national recognition is pretty special. We’re recognized around the country because of that article. It’s a testament to Coach and Vicky, because they’re the ones who established this. It makes me stick my chest out a little bit, knowing we had a little something to do with it.”

To both: Has there been time to be yourselves and have fun while also working hard at both your classwork and golf?

Barbosa – “It’s an extremely demanding and high-pressure situation. There’s no denying that. You’re expected to compete for a national championship, and you’re going to one of the top institutions in the country. There are very few people capable of completing that kind of task. That’s why we came here. I don’t think there is anything we would trade for the experiences that we’ve had.”

Jordan – “It’s different than a lot of other programs. Coach is really upfront about the whole thing, which is why he is such a good recruiter and why quality people continue to come through here. He tells you like it is, and there are no surprises. You’re going to work hard in the gym, you’re going to work hard in the classroom, and you’re going to work hard on the golf course. That’s what is expected from you. Knowing all of us, that’s what we want to do. But college is college, and we can sit around the dorm and be stupid with each other, but when it’s time to work hard, everyone knows how to do that.”

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