March 11, 2010
Las Vegas, Nev. – Facing what is easily the stiffest competition of any tournament in which it has played all year, Georgia Tech’s golf team travels to Las Vegas, Nev., to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters this weekend.
Thirteen of the nation’s top 30 teams are in the 15-team field for the 54-hole event which is played on the 7,510-yard, par 72 Southern Highlands Golf Club, including top-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 4 Texas, No. 5 Florida and No. 7 Texas A&M.
This is Georgia Tech’s 12th appearance in the Las Vegas event, a run that includes two championships in 2001 and 2002. Cameron Tringale took home medalist honors a year ago. Play begins each day off both the No. 1 and 10 tees at 8 a.m. Pacific time. Live scoring of the event, which runs through Sunday, can be found at www.golfstat.com.
The Yellow Jackets are No. 14 in the latest Golfstat rankings, No. 20 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. They also will face No. 11 UCLA, No. 12 TCU, No. 13 Arizona State, No. 14 and host UNLV, No. 16 Southern California, No. 20 Texas Tech, No. 25 Georgia and No. 26 Tennessee.
“I would think so,” said head coach Bruce Heppler when asked if the field would be the toughest his team will face this year. “It will have an NCAA Championship feel, which is what you want to try and do. It will give us a good idea in March for where we stand with the best teams in the nation. This is a golf course that will play very similar to the one we’ll hopefully see in June. The course requires a lot of the same things the Honors Course will require, – patience and composure.”
Heppler will battle that field and golf course with a five-man travel team that includes three of the nation’s top 113 players in the Sagarin Index – John-Tyler Griffin (No. 6), James White (No. 47) and Kyle Scott (No. 113). All three rank among the top 10 players in the Atlantic Coast Conference in stroke average.
Griffin, a junior from Wilson, N.C., who sits atop the ACC stroke average list at 70.25, has finished in the top 10 in five of six events this year, including a tie for 10th at the Mauna Lani Invitational and a tie for fourth at the Puerto Rico Classic this spring. Fourteen of his 16 rounds have been even or under par.
White, a sophomore from Acworth, Ga., with four top-20 finishes in five events this year, ranks fourth on the ACC stroke average chart (71.23). He tied for 15th at Puerto Rico and sixth in Hawai’i. Scott, a junior from Johannesburg, South Africa, with a 72.13 average (10th in the ACC), tied for sixth in Hawai’I and has three top-10s this year in six events.
They’ll be joined by two-time All-American Chesson Hadley, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., making his spring debut after averaging 71.71 and one top-20 finish in three fall events, and Paul Haley, a junior from Dallas, Texas, with a 74.46 norm and one top-20 in five tournaments.