Sept. 24, 2009
ATLANTA – With two players set to make their 2009-10 debuts, Georgia Tech’s golf team heads to Franklin, Tenn., this weekend to play its second fall tournament, the Mason Rudolph Intercollegiate at the Legends Club outside Nashville.
The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets, coming off a third-place finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate two weekends ago, are part of a 17-team field that includes Akron, Arkansas State, Belmont, Davidson, LSU, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Notre Dane, South Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee-Martin, Vanderbilt and Western Carolina.
Senior Chesson Hadley, a 2008 All-American from Raleigh, N.C., and James White, a sophomore from Acworth, Ga., are set to play in their first tournament of the fall. Hadley, who finished strong in the spring but missed the travel squad for the Carpet Capital Collegiate, finished second at 8-under-par in the team’s 54-hole qualifying last weekend. White, who tied for sixth at the ACC Championship last spring, was fourth in qualifying among the five players going to Tennessee.
Kyle Scott, who led qualifying at 10-under-par, John-Tyler Griffin and Paul Haley have made the travel team for the second time. Haley, a junior from Dallas, Texas, tied for 13th (even-par 216) to lead the Jackets at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, while Griffin, a junior from Wilson, N.C., tied for 20th (2-over 218) and Scott tied for 24th (4-over 220).
Tech’s start at the Carpet Capital Collegiate was encouraging. The Jackets’ third-place finish was eight spots better than in the same event a year earlier, and head coach Bruce Heppler believes his team’s improvement in team qualifying led to the improvement in competition.
“One through nine, it’s more competitive than it’s been in a while,” said Heppler, whose fifth played this week played 54 qualifying holes in 2-under-par. “The three players who came in have pushed everybody, and Paul Haley came back with a different approach to things after not having played an event last year, so that’s like having four new players. James and Ming enjoyed some success last year, and they’re better players. It’s everybody.
“The fifth guy in our lineup probably would have been 3, 4, 5 over par before. That’s probably two shots a round better, and that’s a lot. Even the scores beyond that are significantly better. It goes all the way to the end.”
Tech has typically played in the Golfweek Preview Invitational during this week, which is usually played at the site of the NCAA Championship, but this year’s event is being played in the state of Washington, rather than the Honors Course outside Chattanooga where this year’s championship will be held. Heppler felt it made more sense to stay close to home rather than travel cross country. Also, Vanderbilt, the host of the Mason Rudolph event, is coached by Tom Shaw, who played golf for the Yellow Jackets in the early 1990s.
“The Preview is a tournament we strive to play in, but didn’t make any financial or golf sense to travel all the way out there for a two-day event,” Heppler said. “We heard this was a good golf course, and Tom has invited us several times, and this year it made sense.”
The Vanderbilt Legends Club is a par-71 course measuring 7,100 yards. The 54-hole event begins Friday and concludes Sunday. Tee times begin at 8 a.m.