May 21, 2005
Kingston Springs, Tenn. – Roberto Castro fired a six-under-par 65 Saturday, and seniors Nicholas Thompson and Chan Song combined to go three-under-par as third-ranked Georgia Tech finished tied for sixth place at the NCAA East Regional golf tournament.
Tech thus advances to the NCAA Division I Championship for the eighth straight year and the 19th time in its history. The championship will be played June 1-4 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.
Wake Forest (3-under-par 281 – 835) led wire-to-wire and captured the team championship by two shots over Tennessee (279 – 837), with Georgia (285 – 843) finishing third and Georgia State (275) tied for fourth with Florida (288 – 845). The Panthers appeared destined not to finish in the top 10 late in the round before playing their final three holes in seven shots under par, and finished the with the day’s best score of nine-under-par 275.
Tech, which posted a five-under-par score of 279 Saturday, finished in a tie with Alabama (280) at five-under-par 847. Coastal Carolina (eight-under-par 276 Saturday) and Duke (six-over 290) tied for eighth place at three-under 849), and Georgia Southern shot three-under 281 Saturday (850 total) to grab the 10th and final qualifying spot.
Clemson (four-under-par Saturday) missed qualifying by two shots and Virginia (five-under-par Saturday) by three.
The Yellow Jackets, tied for ninth place at the start of the day, made their move on the back nine at the Golf Club of Tennessee, posting a four-under-par team score coming home, including four birdies on the par-five 17th hole.
Castro, whose 65 was one off his career-low round, birdies seven holes, including three straight on Nos. 15-16-17, and did not make a bogey until the final hole. Thompson was two-under-par on the back nine in posting his 69, and Song was one-under on the inward nine to finish his third straight subpar round of 70. Mike Barbosa and Kevin Larsen, who made a critical birdie on the 17th hole, each posted 75s.
“Chan and Nick came through today,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “The pressure is on your team, and that’s why you like experience and playing against the toughest fields in the toughest events. We’ve played in the last group over and over again, and that pays off. Then you get Roberto to shoot a round like that.
“If you’ve played hard golf courses against good teams, experience should prevail. But again, it will be a team effort. No one is getting through by themselves. You need five guys being patient, five guys composed, five guys thinking about what you’re doing out there. It’s hard to have one guy dragging you through the tournament.”
After muddling through the first two days at even par, Castro began rolling in putts Saturday and was delighted to put all the elements of his game together.
“The first day I had a big number (an eight on the par-five fifth hole),” said the sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga. “Yesterday, I played well but didn’t make any putts. So I worked on my putting a little, and just made a small change. When you make putts, it takes pressure off the rest of your game, and I actually hit it better today. A couple of putts went in, and I played the par-fives better. I played the par-fives even yesterday, and four-under today. That’s a four-shot difference right there.
“It was do-or-die, and that helps there. I think that’s where we do well. We have two seniors. Mike’s like a senior, and Kevin and I have played two years, so we’ve got guys who have been there time in and time out. I think it tightened our focus, but we really weren’t that worried. We knew we had five good players and hadn’t done anything the first two days.”
Castro and Song tied for 10th place in the individual race at six-under-par 207. Dustin Johnson of Coastal Carolina shot 64 Saturday and came away with medalist honors at 15-under-par 198. Rhys Davies of East Tennessee State finished second at 14-under 199, advancing to the NCAA Championship as an individual.
Complete results are available at Golfstatresults.com
NCAA EAST REGIONAL GOLFThe Gold Club of Tennessee, Kingston Springs, Tenn.Final Results
TOP TEN FINISHERS WHO ADVANCE TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP Wake Forest 281 – 835 (-17) Tennessee 279 – 837 (-15) Georgia 285 – 843 (-9) Florida 288 – 845 (-7) Georgia State 275 – 845 (-7) Georgia Tech 279 – 847 (-5) Alabama 280 – 847 (-5) Coastal Carolina 276 – 849 (-3) Duke 290 – 849 (-3) Georgia Southern 281 – 850 (-2)
TOP INDIVIDUALS Dustin Johnson, Coastal Carolina 64 – 198 (-15) Rhys Davies, East Tennessee State 68 – 199 (-14) Matt Every, Florida 69 – 203 (-10) Sean Moore, Wake Forest 68 – 203 (-10) Michael Shachner, Duke 72 – 204 (-9) Ross McGowan, Tennessee 71 – 205 (-8) Brendon Todd, Georgia 71 – 205 (-8) John Scott Rattan, Tennessee 68 – 206 (-7) Martin Ureta, North Carolina 68 – 206 (-7)
GEORGIA TECH SCORES Roberto Castro (T10) 73-69-65 – 207 (-6) Chan Song (T10) 68-69-70 – 207 (-6) Nicholas Thompson (T34) 72-72-69 – 213 (E) Kevin Larsen (T90) 72-75-75 – 222 (+9) Mike Barbosa (T105) 77-73-75 – 225 (+12)