May 8, 2006
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team, ranked fourth in the nation, has been made the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Central Regional, which will be played May 18-20 at Sand Ridge Golf Club in Chardon, Ohio, near Cleveland.
The Yellow Jackets, which earned an automatic berth by sharing the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last month, has been sent out of its geographic (East) region for the first time since the NCAA began conducting regional qualifying tournaments in 1989.
The other two regional tournaments will be held the same weekend at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. (East Regional) and Tucson National Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz. (West Regional). The regionals are 54-hole stroke play events, each with 27 teams competing, and the top 10 finishers in each advance to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, May 31-June 3 at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore.
“It shocks me a little,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler, who was named the ACC Coach of the Year on Monday. “The committee really made an effort to balance the field, and pretty much threw geography out the window. But we’re happy to be going. It’s a good golf course from what I hear, a difficult golf course. We’re out of school now, so we’ll totally concentrate on getting ready for this.”
Named the 52nd best golf course in America by Golf Digest in 2005, the Tom Fazio-designed Sand Ridge will play as a 7,173 yard, par 71 (35-36), with the sixth hole being converted from a par 5 to a 485 yard par 4.
Georgia, the nation’s top-ranked team, is the top seed in the East. No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State is the top seed in the Central, and No. 3-ranked Florida is the top seed in the West. UCLA, ranked fifth in the nation, is the No. 2 seed in the East.
Eight ACC teams were awarded regional bids, but only four of them, including ACC co-champion North Carolina, were put in the East. Clemson and Duke are in the Central Regional with Tech, and NC State was placed in the West.
Behind the Cowboys and Yellow Jackets in the Central, in order of seed, are Texas A&M, Clemson, Duke, Texas, Kentucky, Tulsa, Northwestern, Minnesota, Lamar, Kent State, Oklahoma, TCU, Purdue, SMU, Xavier, Texas-Arlington, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas State, Eastern Kentucky, Cleveland State, Siena, Princeton and St. Francis (Pa.).
Tech has never failed to advance through an NCAA regional in 15 tries (the Yellow Jackets did not receive bids in 1995 and 1996). Heppler’s teams have won two regional tournaments and finished seventh or higher in all the rest. The Jackets have played in the NCAA Championship every year but two since 1985, finishing second four times.