May 17, 2008
Columbus, Ohio – For the first time since 1997, Georgia Tech’s golf team will not be in the NCAA Division I Championship after the 8th-ranked Yellow Jackets shot 18-over-par 302 Saturday and finished 15th at the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.
Under gray skies and winds that with ranged from 20 to 30 miles per hour at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course, the Yellow Jackets were unable to solve the difficult back nine, where they started their round. Head coach Bruce Heppler’s team played the front (its second) nine in even par, posting seven birdies coming in.
“We thought 46 or 47 over par would be the number to make the cut, which would have required a score of 9-over or better today, but you really have to play well in this wind,” Heppler said. “It did not let up, and it has gotten worse this afternoon. A 9-over score here would have been pretty phenomenal (13-over was the best score posted Saturday).”
Freshman J.T. Griffin shot 3-over-par 74 to pace the Jackets on Saturday, while Chesson Hadley and Taylor Hall each posted 4-over 75, and All-American Cameron Tringale shot 78. Tech finished the tournament at 56-over-par 908, seven shots shy of 10th place.
Tech entered the final day tied for 20th place, needing to make up eight shots to reach the top 10. By the time they teed off Saturday, the Jackets had seen the 36-hole leaders post scores in double digits over par, giving the Jackets some hope that with a solid score they could advance to the national tournament.
Instead, Tech’s 10-year streak of advancing to the championship is over, as well as its perfect 17-for-17 mark of advancing through regional qualifiers.
“It’s disappointing to have this come to an end,” said Heppler. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s on all of us. We just weren’t ready to go. This is really difficult test, and we were not ready for it. You just need to hang and hang, and we just threw it out the door on those second nine holes the first day.”
Tech had struggled on the back nine of the Scarlet Course all week, and Saturday was no different as the Yellow Jackets went out in 18-over par. Over three rounds, the Jackets played the second nine in 57-over-par, the front nine in 1-under-par.
“You take your medicine one way or the other,” said Heppler. “Do you want to start on the back and survive, or start on the front and build some momentum?”
All but one of the top 11 teams after 36 holes all maintained their positions Saturday and advanced to the NCAA Championship, May 28-31 in West Lafayette, Ind. Wake Forest (+27), which had led from day one, finished 10 shots ahead of Oklahoma State (+37). Illinois (+39) was third, followed by Florida and Louisville (+42 each), Alabama (+44), Texas A&M (+45), Kent State and Penn State (+46 each), and Indiana (+49).
Eastern Kentucky, which began the day in fifth place, failed to remain in the top 10 at the end of the day, tying for 12th.
Oklahoma State’s Kevin Tway won medalist honors at 1-over-par 214, one stroke clear of Wake Forest’s Brendan Gielow and Penn State’s Robert Rohanna (each at +2).
Hadley tied for 12th place at 9-over 222, the Yellow Jackets’ highest finisher. Hall tied for 52nd (+14), Griffin tied for 65th (+16), Tringale tied for 90th (+19) and Dragoo tied for 109th (+22).