April 15, 2008
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team will attempt to capture its third consecutive conference title when it begins play Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship at the Old North State Club at Uwharrie Point in New London, N.C.
Competition promises to be stiff for the 54-hole championship on the 7,100-yard, par 72 layout. Eight of the 11 ACC teams are ranked among the nation’s top 34 teams, according to the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Five of them are among the top 25, led by the Yellow Jackets, who are ranked eighth.
The championship also features nine of the nation’s top 50 individuals, led by Tech All-American Chesson Hadley (No. 6), Florida State’s Jonas Blixt (No. 7) and Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson (No. 9). Tech’s Cameron Tringale is ranked No. 36.
“The conference has several really good teams which should make for a very competitive championship,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler, who has coached the Jackets to five ACC titles in 12 years. “I think we have a chance to have a good tournament with a goal of going up there and being successful. We’re playing as well, 1-through-5, as we have all year.”
The Yellow Jackets, who tee off at 8:30 a.m. Friday and are paired with No. 18 Clemson, have shared the crown the last two years, with North Carolina in 2006 and Virginia Tech in 2007. Tech has won four of the 11 championships that have been played at Old North State, and has 10 ACC titles overall.
Hadley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., and Tringale, a junior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., head a Tech contingent that also includes junior Taylor Hall of LaGrange, Ga., red-shirt freshman J.T. Griffin of Wilson, N.C., and junior David Dragoo of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tringale, who has Tech’s best spring stroke average (70.79) and four top-10 finishes for the year, won medalist honors at the ACC Championship as a freshman in 2006, finished second by one stroke last year, and is a collective 17-under-par over six rounds at the Old North State Club.
Hadley, who leads the ACC this year in stroke average (70.73) and has five top-10 finishes, tied for ninth last year as a freshman with a 1-under-par score of 215. He recently was named to the watch list for this year’s Jack Nicklaus Award.
Hall, making his third ACC Championship start, tied for ninth as a freshman in 2006 (5-under 211) and tied for 25th last year. He ranks third on Tech’s team in stroke average (73.80) this year and has two top-20 finishes.
Griffin and Dragoo are making their first ACC championship appearances, although as a native of Wilson, N.C., Griffin has played the course before. Griffin has averaged 75.29 strokes in five starts this year for Tech, while Dragoo has a 74.87 norm in eight events. They have been part of Tech’s travel squad for its last two events – the United States Collegiate Championship and the Administaff Augusta State Invitational.
“J.T. and David have gotten their feet wet and are getting more comfortable,” said Heppler. “I think we’re playing as well as a group as we have all year, and this is a good time of the year to do that. We’ve had a lot of success at Old North State. Cameron has had a lot of good memories on that golf course, and Taylor also has played well there. We have some good karma going in.”
Tee times for Saturday’s and Sunday’s rounds will be determined by cumulative team standing following each day’s play.