Feb. 7, 2006
ATLANTA – Hoping to use a successful fall campaign as a springboard, Georgia Tech’s golf team opens its spring schedule Wednesday in the UH-Hilo Intercollegiate on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
Tech, ranked third in the nation, is making this trip for the ninth straight year, having won four times and finished second a year ago. The event, being held for the second straight year at the 6,814-yard, par 72 Waikoloa Village Golf Course, annually attracts the largest field of any in which the Yellow Jackets play. Twenty-one teams, including No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Arizona State, No. 20 Washington, No. 23 Texas and No. 25 Pepperdine will be on hand for the 54-hole tournament.
Head coach Bruce Heppler will take the same five players that opened the fall slate, juniors Kevin Larsen and Roberto Castro, senior Mike Barbosa and freshmen Cameron Tringale and Taylor Hall. Following a fall in which the Jackets won one event and finished fourth or higher in the other four, Larsen was named a mid-season All-American by Golf World magazine and Heppler was named mid-season national coach of the year.
Larsen, from Santa Barbara, Calif., earned a top-10 finish in all four stroke play events, topping the Yellow Jackets in stroke average at 70.83. He was followed closely by Castro, a first-team All-American from Alpharetta, Ga., who finished in the top 20 in all four of his fall starts and averaged 71.25.
“Once he played well one time, his confidence started to come back,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “He’s just competing, and he’s not caught in between. I think the things he tried to work on now are showing up and some of them aren’t. He really hit the ball great in the fall, he chipped and putted the ball well, and he’s close to having a great year.”
Castro, despite not having played competitive;y since early November, shot 10-under-par in the Jackets’ 90-hole qualifying tournament, played at East Lake Golf Club and the Golf Club of Georgia, and won by 10 shots. The junior, who has six top-five finishes in his career but is still looking for his first win, finished fourth in this event a year ago with a 17-under-par score of 199.
“He just plays,” said Heppler. “I know that he wants to win a tournament, and he works at it and is competitive as anybody. I think now he just has to get out of his own way. He’s more than good enough to win. The great thing about Roberto is before the tournament is over, he’s going to finish around the top 10 or higher, and that’s a real credit to his competitiveness. That’s a sign of a really good player who just plays well every single time.”
Tringale earned the fifth spot in a playoff over freshman David Dragoo.
Barbosa, from St. Petersburg, Fla., struggled in the four stroke-play events last fall (no top-20 finishes, 73.93 stroke average) but finished strong, winning all four of his matches at the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship. Hall and Tringale each tied for fourth individually in Tech’s lone team victory at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, and posted fall stroke averages of 72.83 and 73.33, respectively.
The tournament will consist of 18-hole rounds Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, each round beginning with a shotgun start at 7 a.m. local time (12 noon Eastern). There is no live scoring, but results will be posted on Tech’s official website, Ramblinwreck.com, after 9 p.m. each night.