Oct. 22, 2009
ATLANTA – Facing a field with 12 teams ranked among the nation’s top 100 teams, Georgia Tech’s golf team closes out its fall schedule Saturday and Sunday at the UNCG Bridgestone Golf Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.
Eight of the 15 teams – more than half of the field – are ranked in the top 50 amidst the 286 teams in Division I. Tennessee is ranked No. 12, Augusta State is ranked No. 16, Duke is at No. 21, Virginia is No. 26, Virginia Tech is ranked No. 30, VCU comes in at No. 37, and North Carolina comes in at No. 42. Three more teams – Michigan, Minnesota and Michigan State – fall just outside of the top 50.
Augusta State’s Patrick Reed is expected to be the top-ranked player in the field, coming in at No. 7 overall and No. 5 in Division I in this week’s individual Golfstat rankings. Minnesota’s Ben Pisani is rated No. 37 among all collegiate players, while Virginia’s Ben Kohles sits at No. 41 and Georgia Tech’s John-Tyler Griffin is No. 43.
Two rounds will be played on Saturday with teams starting in a shotgun format at 8:30 a.m. Sunday’s final round will have tee times going off of Nos. 1 and 10 starting at 8:30 a.m.
Griffin, a junior from Wilson, N.C., is one of three Tech players from the Tar Heel state participating this weekend, along with senior All-American Chesson Hadley and freshman Bo Andrews, who both hail from Raleigh. Kyle Scott, a junior from Johannesburg, South Africa, and James White, a sophomore from Acworth, Ga., complete the Jackets’ travel squad.
Head coach Bruce Heppler, who has seen Tech’s last two events shortened to 36 holes because of rain, hopes his team can rebound from a disappointing 12th-place finish at the Brickyard Collegiate two weeks ago. Griffin tied for second individually, and White tied for 15th, but neither counted toward Tech’s team score because they had not made the travel squad in team qualifying and played as individuals.
“We’ve played 12 rounds at home and three tournaments, which gave us a lot of information,” said Heppler, whose team qualified for two spots this week. “We felt we would play for a few spots to reward those who played well at home, but also save a couple spots for those who have played well in tournaments.
“If you look straight at the results, it’s not what we hoped for. At the Brickyard, we had a couple guys play well as individuals who would have made a significant impact on our team result. And what’s going on day-to-day in our program is very positive, so we focus on that.”
Griffin has a pair of top-10 finishes this fall and another top-20 showing. He tops the Tech scoring average chart at 70.57 strokes over seven rounds. White is next at 71.75, followed by Hadley at 72.50, Scott at 72.86 and Andrews at 73.00.
“I’m glad James won the qualifying tournament, it was a good reward for him,” said Heppler. “It’s worked out that all three of our players who are from North Carolina are going, which will give them an opportunity to play in front of their friends and family.”
The tournament is played at the scenic Forest Oaks Country Club, past home of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship. The site of a PGA Tour stop for 31 years beginning in 1977, Forest Oaks plays at more than 7,000 yards. Originally opened in 1962 and built by Ellis Maples, the course underwent a redesign by Davis Love III in 2002.