March 26, 2008
Alpharetta, Ga. – Taylor Hall shot Georgia Tech’s best round of the tournament with a 68 Wednesday, but the 10th-ranked Yellow Jackets were unable to make up ground on the leaders and finished fourth in the third annual United States Collegiate Championship at The Golf Club of Georgia.
Four Tech players birdied the final hole Wednesday to give the Yellow Jackets a closing 1-over-par 289 and a tournament score of 11-over-par 875, 11 shots off the pace set by sixth-ranked Southern California.
USC shot 5-under-par as a team Wednesday to pull away from the field and capture the team title, while Oklahoma State’s Trent Leon shot a 2-under 70 to take the individual medal at third annual United States Collegiate Championship at The Golf Club of Georgia.
Tech’s Cameron Tringale, who shot 73 Wednesday, finished fifth at 3-under 213, his third top-10 finish in four spring tournaments. Hall, a junior from LaGrange, Ga., finished tied for 21st overall at 220, his best round and finish of the spring. Chesson Hadley and J.T. Griffin each shot 74 to count for the Jackets Wednesday, and finished tied for 28th and 33rd, respectively. Daniel Bowden tied for 68th.
“We said a few weeks ago that the strength of the competition was going to ratchet up,” Tech head coach Bruce Heppler said. “We didn’t do so well the first two tournaments. But this is the best we’ve played against the best teams in the country all year.
“We had some rounds from some guys we haven’t had all year. John Tyler (Griffin) had a better tournament, and Taylor Hall had a couple of good days. That’s where the improvement needs to come from. For us to be competitive when Tringale and Hadley aren’t carrying the whole load says a lot about what we need to do. We beat some good teams, and for us moving forward, it was a very positive experience.”
The Trojans sailed to their second tournament win this year on the strength of three subpar scores in the final round Wednesday. Their tournament total of even-par 864 was three shots better than No. 5 Oklahoma State.
Jamie Lovemark, a sophomore who won last year’s NCAA individual crown, matched the tournament record Wednesday by firing a 6-under-par 66 and tied for second individually at 7-under-par 209. He had six birdies and no bogeys in his round.
“This is a phenomenal win against a great field, and we didn’t back into it at all,” said USC coach Chris Zambri, “Hopefully, this lets these guys know they can play to the highest level. I know Bruce’s vision was to have the premier event in college golf, and I think he’s done that.”
Leon, junior, captured his first collegiate win with a 54-hole score of 8-under-par 208. His teammate Rickie Fowler, with a final-round 67 tied Lovemark for second place and helped the Cowboys finish second as a team, three strokes back.
“Aside from the nationals and the conference, this is the best tournament you can win,” said Leon, who earned the victory with three steady rounds (69-69-70). “I pretty much told myself, I’ve been in this position too many times and messed it up.”
Alabama finished third at 8-over 872, led by the nation’s top-ranked player in Michael Thompson, who shot 73 Wednesday and finished the tournament 1-over 217.
Florida State shot 3-under 285 Wednesday and finished fifth at 13-over-par, followed by Texas A&M (17-over). First-round leader UCLA faded to seventh at the finish (18-over), while Georgia State was eighth (19-over) and No. 2 Georgia placed ninth (22-over).
Individually, Georgia State’s Joel Sjoholm finished fourth at 6-under 210 after posting a 68 on Wednesday. Texas A&M teammates Nacho Elvira and Matt Van Zandt tied for sixth at 1-under 215, while Thompson and Charlotte’s Corey Nagy tied for eighth at 1-over 217.
The tournament, played at the 7,017-yard, par 72 Lakeside Course, finished in the best weather conditions of the week, calm winds and temperatures approaching 70 degrees. Heppler, watching a field that included nine of the nation’s top 11 teams this week, lays claim to hosting the nation’s best regular-season event.
“It’s not even close. We’re getting a lot of people out here to watch,” said Heppler. “The way everything is done here, from the rules, to pace of play, under five hours on a hard golf course, there is just no way to do it any better than they do it here. I love this course, and I love this club. It’s a big part of our program, and I’m glad everybody else can see it.”