June 3, 2005
Owings Mills, Md. – Armed with the experience of playing in adverse weather conditions out in Oregon in March, Georgia Tech’s golf team overcame cold, blustery winds and rain to post the morning’s low round Friday and move into second place heading into the final round of the NCAA Division I Golf Championship.
Roberto Castro paced the Yellow Jackets with a one-over-par 71, which broke a personal streak of four subpar rounds but was the low round of the morning and moved the sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., into second place individually, just one stroke off the lead.
Tech entered Friday’s play in third place, 11 strokes behind Georgia, which has led since the first round Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets posted a 15-over-par score of 295, moving two strokes closer to the Bulldogs, who put together a 17-over-par round of 297 Friday. Georgia stands at 15-over-par 855, Tech at 24-over-par 864. Southern California is in third place, another 11 strokes back at 35-over-par 875.
Live scoring for the championship is available on Golfstatresults.com. Television coverage Saturday’s final round can be seen on The Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m.
For the fourth time in seven post-season rounds, Tech and Georgia will be paired together for the final 18 holes of the NCAA Championship Saturday, teeing off at 9:21 a.m. from hole No. 1. The Yellow Jackets are 3-5 in tournament head-to-head meetings with the Bulldogs this year, and have shaved five shots off the UGA lead in the last two days. Head coach Bruce Heppler is not daunted about the deficit his team must overcome.
“It’s five-under and five-over,” said Heppler, whose team was a victim of such a comeback in the 2002 NCAA Championship. “With 10 guys, a 10-shot lead can disappear in five holes. On this golf course, everybody has to mind their P’s and Q’s. You just have to start playing the golf course, and see what happens.
“I’d rather be ahead, sure. But we’ve played hard for three days, and that’s all you can ask for. I’m more concerned about how they’ll handle that than the deficit itself.”
Castro, who stands at two-under-par 208 through 54 holes, is tied for second place with Major Manning of Augusta State (73 Friday). Michael Putman of Pepperdine held his lead by also carding a 73 Friday, and is at three-under-par 207. They are the only players in red figures for the championship.
“You kind of prepare for the worst all week,” said Castro, Tech’s scoring leader all year. “You know it’s going to rain eventually. It’s tough, especially after you make a couple of bogeys and then you think you might not make another par. I’ve never seen a course this long. It was absurd how long it played today. But we grinded it out.”
Senior Chan Song and sophomore Kevin Larsen shot 74 for the Yellow Jackets Friday, while Mike Barbosa came in at 76 for Tech’s fourth counting score. Song and Barbosa are tied for 36th place individually at 9-over-par 219. Nicholas Thompson (77 Friday) is tied for 49th place at 221, and Larsen is tied for 86th at 225.
The 15 teams playing in the morning endured a constant rain that varied from a mist to steady drizzle, as well as winds that changed in direction and intensity throughout the round. The average individual round was 76.68.
For Heppler and the Yellow Jackets, it was similar to conditions they experienced during 36 holes at the Oregon Duck Invitational and a pair of rounds they played at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore., in March.
“We got to the first tee, and it was OK, and then the sky opened up,” said Heppler. “From the first hole on, it was brutal. This is why we went to Bandon Dunes and to Oregon, because we don’t get this (kind of weather) much. And I promise you, this was easy compared to Bandon Dunes. We were playing in this much rain with 40 mile-per-hour winds.
“Today’s the kind of day where you had to be optimistic. Holes were playing 50 and 60 yards longer than they were the first two days. There’s no roll.”
Castro concurred, saying, “Bandon was absurd. That was the worst weather you could ever play golf in. It was 35 degrees, and the highest gusts hit 63 miles an hour. That’s why we go to those places. So we’ve seen it before. That course was made to be played in wind and rain; this one’s not.”
As they have all week, the Jackets overcame front-nine problems to score well on the back nine. For the week, Tech has played the finishing nine in three-over-par, compared to 21-over on the outward nine.
“This is when discipline and a little mental toughness come in handy,” Heppler said. “You need to learn how to fight. You get hit by the golf course today, and you have to know how to hit back. By and large, I thought we did a pretty good job.
“We got off to a miserable start. Part of it was the conditions. We missed some putts and made some bad decisions, and were behind the eight-ball before we ever got started. From about the seventh or eighth hole in, though, we did about as good as you could ever hope for. That’s a tribute to them wanting to hang in there.”
Also surviving the 54-hole cut Friday were Duke, Arizona State, Washington, Kentucky and Augusta State, who are tied for fifth place (+37). Georgia State and Brigham Young are tied for 11th (+39), followed by New Mexico and Tennessee in a tie for 12th place (+38). Top-ranked Oklahoma State (+42) and Georgia Southern (+43) also came in above the cut line.
NCAA DIVISION I GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPCaves Valley Golf Club, Owings Mills, Md.Third-round Results
TOP 15 TEAMS THROUGH 54 HOLES (Rest of field eliminated after Friday’s round) Georgia 274-284-297 – 855 (+15) Georgia Tech 288-281-295 – 864 Southern California 290-282-303 – 875 UNLV 284-290-302 – 876 Arizona State 291-285-301 – 877 Augusta State 286-289-302 – 877 Duke 288-286-303 – 877 Kentucky 291-294-294 – 877 Washington 289-285-303 – 877 Georgia State 287-287-305 – 879 Brigham Young 285-290-304 – 879 New Mexico 289-300-291 – 880 Tennessee 279-288-313 – 880 Oklahoma State 292-289-301 – 882 Georgia Southern 286-298-299 – 883
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Michael Putnam, Pepperdine 67-67-73 – 207 (-3) Roberto Castro, Georgia Tech 69-68-71 – 208 (-2) Major Manning, Augusta State 65-70-73 – 208 (-2) John Holmes, Kentucky 70-72-69 – 211 (+1) Aron Price, Georgia Southern 66-73-72 – 211 (+1)
GEORGIA TECH SCORES Roberto Castro (T2) 69-68-71 – 208 (-2) Mike Barbosa (T36) 71-72-76 – 219 (+9) Chan Song (T36) 73-72-74 – 219 (+9) Nicholas Thompson (T49) 75-69-77 – 221 (+11) Kevin Larsen (T86) 77-74-74 – 225 (+15)