Oct. 7, 2010
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team, which has been in contention to win during the final round in each of its first two events this fall, swings back into action Friday at the Brickyard Intercollegiate in Macon, Ga.
The 54-hole event is played at the 7,128-yard Brickyard at Riverside and runs through Sunday. Among the other teams competing in the fourth-year event are 2010 NCAA Champion Augusta State, Georgia, Boston College, Chattanooga, Clemson, Colorado State, Florida State, Gonzaga, Mercer, North Florida, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Texas-Arlington and Virginia Tech.
In their first two-events this fall, the Yellow Jackets have finished third at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and seventh at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitational, which was held at the site of the 2011 NCAA Championship. Tech was within a shot of the lead at the turn of the Carpet Capital before falling back, and was one stroke off the lead after 36 holes at the Preview before retreating. Head coach Bruce Heppler is looking for the Jackets to make a strong finish this weekend.
“We’ve had a chance to win twice, and we didn’t play that well coming in, but we were in the mix,” said Heppler. “They know what it’s like to be in the heat of battle, and I think they’ll only get more comfortable with that situation. When you’re playing against good teams, you can’t have a hiccup, and I know they’ve learned from that.
“Our practices have been good, and our mood on the road has been very good. We’re better than we were last fall at this point, and if we continue to make progress, we can have a really good year.”
Tech’s traveling team this weekend includes seniors John-Tyler Griffin, Paul Haley and Kyle Scott, who will be joined by juniors James White and Minghao Wang. Freshmen Richard Werenski and Seth Reeves will compete as individuals.
Haley, a native of Dallas, Texas, has finished in the top 10 of each event this fall (T7 at the Carpet Capital, T10 at the Preview), compiling a 72.3 stroke average. Griffin, from Wilson, N.C., has finished in the top 20 of each event, including a tie for ninth at the Carpet Capital, and has a 72.7 average for six rounds.
Scott, from Johannesburg, South Africa, and White, from Acworth, Ga., each have played in both events this fall and recorded one top-20 finish. Scott averages 73.8 strokes over six rounds, and White 76.0.
Wang, a native of China who attended high school in Reunion, Fla., is making his first and only start of the fall. The junior has been named to the Chinese team that will compete in the World Amateur Team Championships, Oct. 28-31, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which conflicts with the Yellow Jackets’ final fall event.
Werenski, from South Hadley, Mass., competed as Tech’s fifth player at the Carpet Capital and the Preview, recording a 75.2 stroke average. Reeves, a left-handed player from Duluth, Ga., who red-shirted last year, is making his collegiate debut this weekend.
“This is a great tournament because the entire Macon community gets involved, and it’s a big event for them,” said Heppler. “The golf course has gotten better and better, and they make everyone feel so welcome.
“Another reason we like playing in this event is we get to give some other guys experience. The only way you get better is to play in tournaments, and to be able to bring a couple of extra guys and give them some exposure helps everybody down the road.”
Tech finished third and second in this event in the first two years of its existence, but just 12th out of 15 teams in this event a year ago, in part because the Yellow Jackets’ top two players at the time – Griffin and White – had not made the travel team through qualifying and both finished in the top 10 as individuals.