June 3, 2004
HOT SPRINGS, Va. – Nick Thompson paced Georgia Tech by firing a 2-under-par 68 Thursday, but the sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets lost ground to the leaders after posting a 7-over-par team score of 287 in the third round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at The Homestead Resort.
With the top 15 teams after 36 holes teeing off first Thursday, Tech was tied for eighth place with Brigham Young at 861. The Yellow Jackets were 14 shots off the pace of UCLA, but easily made the 54-hole cut to 15 teams.
Thompson, freshman Roberto Castro (even-par 70) and sophomore Mike Barbosa (2-over 72) combined to shoot even par on the 6,679-yard Cascades Course Thursday. But the Yellow Jackets were forced to count a 77 from junior Chan Wongluekiet, who had been 1-under-par after 36 holes.
“In this deal, if you’re going to make up any ground and have a good round, you have to put four good scores together,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “Today we had three guys play really well, shoot even par between them, but we had to count a 77. That’s not going to do it. We held our own with the field, but UCLA played a great round today.”
UCLA posted a 5-under-par 275 and opened a five-stroke lead on second-place Kentucky. The Bruins stand at 7-over-par 847 for 54 holes, while the Wildcats shot 283 Thursday and have a three-round total of 852. California, the leader after each of the first two rounds, fell to third place at 855 after posting a 287 Thursday.
Washington and Arizona are tied for fourth place at 856, followed by top-ranked Florida in sixth place at 858 and Pepperdine in seventh place at 860. Texas was in 10th place at 863, followed by Texas A&M at 867 and Georgia State at 869. Penn State and Oklahoma State were tied for 13th place at 870.
Georgia, the nation’s No. 3-ranked team, won a three-team playoff with Purdue and Southern California for the 15th and final spot for Friday’s round. The Bulldogs rallied from 26th place to get into the playoff.
Individually, Thompson finished 54 holes at 1-over-par 211, and the junior from Coral Springs, Fla., is tied for 13th place with three other players 10 shots behind leader Ryan Moore of UNLV. Moore, whose Runnin’ Rebel team did not qualify for the championship, shot the best round of the tournament Thursday with a 6-under-par 64, has a 54-hole total of 9-under-par 201 and holds a two-shot lead over Chris Nallen of Arizona.
Wongluekiet, who shot 70-69 the first two days, had a 6-over-par total of 216, and is tied for 32nd place. Barbosa was at 9-over-par 219. Castro’s 70 was his best round of the tournament and left him at 10-over 220. Freshman Kevin Larsen, who led Tech with a 69 Wednesday, was 8 over par on his front nine and shot 78 Thursday for a three-round score of 229 (19 over par).
“We hit it better than we scored,” said Heppler, lamenting his team’s putting woes. “On tour, that’s the way it is every week. At least we’re hitting good shots, and that’s all you can do.”
Tech will be paired with Pepperdine and Brigham Young for Friday’s final round. They will begin at the No. 10 tee at 9:30 a.m., and will be the last three teams to finish their rounds.
“It’s important that we play a good round tomorrow, because you never know,” said Heppler. They pay four places here, and if we can get a trophy, that would be very nice. Based on the scores, with a good round, there’s no question we can do that.”
Complete results and live scoring for the NCAA championship can be found at Golfstatresults.com.