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Golf Team Opens Spring in Hawai'i

Feb. 3, 2009

Interview with head coach

Drive Carries Wang From China to Tech – AJC Story

ATLANTA – Led by senior All-American Cameron Tringale beginning his last spring season, Georgia Tech’s 10th-ranked golf team travels to Hawaii for the 12th straight year to open its spring campaign in the UH-Hilo Invitational.

The Yellow Jackets, along with 17 other teams, open the 54-hole event at 5:30 Eastern time Wednesday, with the second round set for Thursday and the final 18 holes Friday. In 11 previous appearances in this event, Tech won five times to go with two runner-up finishes and two fourth-place showings. This year’s tournament is being played for the first time at the Mauna Lani Resort’s North Course (6,913 yards, par 72) on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii.

The 18-team field includes four top-10 teams in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index – No. 2 Southern California, No. 5 Stanford, No. 8 Arizona State and No. 10 Tech – as well as No. 11 Washington, No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 20 TCU, No. 28 Michigan State, No. 31 Florida State and No. 48 Colorado.

Tringale, a three-time All-American from Laguna Niguel, Calif., has finished in the top five of this tournament in each of his three previous tries, and posted the first of his three career victories there in 2006. The senior is hoping to build in the best fall season of his career, in which he won the Brickyard Collegiate, notched two other top-10 finishes and one other top-20.

Ranked eighth in the nation in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, Tringale averaged a team-best 71.50 strokes over 12 fall rounds, half of those at par or under.

“I think he realizes that player of the year honors and those types of things start in August and September now, and he had a great fall,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “If his spring is better than what his they have been in the past, then he is going to have a great year.”

Tringale leads a Tech travel team that includes 2008 All-American Chesson Hadley, senior David Dragoo, sophomore John-Tyler Griffin and freshman James White. Freshman Minghao Wang did not make the travel team, but will compete as an individual.

Hadley, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., goes to Hawaii looking to improve upon a difficult fall campaign in which is did not qualify for Tech’s first tournament and posted just one top-20 finish in a team event (a tie for 17th at the PING/Golfweek Preview). Dragoo, from Scottsdale, Ariz., and playing in his seventh consecutive team event, tied for seventh at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and finished second on the team in stroke average ay 74.00.

Griffin has qualified to travel for Tech in 10 straight events. The Wilson, N.C., native tied for third at the Brickyard in the fall for his best career finish, and averaged 74.42 over 12 rounds. White, from Acworth, Ga., is playing in just his third collegiate event, posting a tie for 28th at the Brickyard for his best fall effort and averaging 75.83 over six rounds.

Wang, who prepped in Reunion, Fla., and is one of only three Division I golfers from China, earned his spot as an individual by tying for 20th in Tech’s final fall event, the Isleworth-UCF Collegiate, and averaging 74.50 over six rounds.

“I think the six that are going over (to Hawai’i) to this point have proven that they were the top six or seven on the team,” said Heppler. “Ming (Wang) had a top-20 finish in the fall and was terrific, James had a nice tournament in Macon as he got started. I think they won’t be as nervous. They’ve been around school now for a semester. Now they are playing in their third event, plus the experience that the other guys have. I really feel like the direction we are heading in is really positive.”

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