Sept. 26, 2008
ATLANTA – Getting an early look at the golf course which will host the 2009 NCAA Championship, Georgia Tech joins 13 of the nation’s top 25 teams this weekend in Toledo, Ohio, for the PING/Golfweek Preview Invitational.
The tournament will be held Sunday through Tuesday, Sept. 28-30, at the Inverness Club, a par-71, 7,255-yard layout which has been the site of four U.S. Open Championships, two PGA Championships and one U.S. Amateur Championship.
Currently ranked No. 15 in the latest coaches poll, Tech joins a field that includes No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Southern Cal, No. 6 Florida, No. 7 Clemson, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Arizona State, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 12 Chattanooga, No. 19 Charlotte, No. 22 Tennessee and No. 25 Kent State. Oklahoma State has appeared in all 19 Previews with Arizona State, Clemson and Florida ranking second in appearances with 17.
Tech has participated in 12 Previews, finishing second five times but never winning. The Yellow Jackets finished in a tie for ninth in their most recent appearance in 2006.
“It’s a great tournament, because it’s where the NCAA Championship will be played, and we’ll get a good idea of where we are as a team,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “The best teams in America will be there, so it’s a great indicator of where your team is relative to the best teams in college.”
Cameron Tringale, who tied for 31st to pace his team in that event, is the only Tech player back to play in this year’s Preview. The senior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., began this fall with a strong tie for seventh at the Carpet Capital Collegiate two weeks ago, closing with a 5-under-par 67 to post a 1-under 215 total. A second-team All-American his first two years at Tech, Tringale had a more ordinary season last year, finishing second on the team in stroke average to Chesson Hadley.
Hadley, who did not make the cut in team qualifying to play at the Carpet Capital, returns to the lineup this week with a vengeance. The junior from Raleigh, N.C., a first-team All-American last year, tied for medalist honors at 4-under 212 with Tringale in this week’s qualifying.
“Cameron had a good first event, had a good qualifier, then a 64 in the final round to win this qualifying,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “So he has a lot of confidence right now. Plus he has a sense of urgency right now because it’s his senior year. Chesson sat home last week and thought about things, and now he’s earned his way back on the road for this event. He played a great round to get our qualifying started this time (64), and he’s really looking forward to playing again.”
The rest of the lineup includes senior David Dragoo, sophomore John-Tyler Griffin and true freshman James White, who will make his collegiate debut at a difficult golf course against many of the nation’s best players.
White, the Georgia state AAAAA champion last year from Harrison High School on Acworth, Ga., tied for third in team qualifying. He will be only the second player on Tech’s current roster to start a tournament as a true freshman (Tringale is the other).
“When we signed him and Ming (Minghao Wang, Tech’s other freshman), we hoped to get as much push as we could throughout the lineup,” said Heppler. “Their records lead you to believe they can be competitive, so it’s great to see him earn his way to go. This will be a tough place to begin his career – a U.S. Open site – but hopefully he can get off to a good start.”
Dragoo, from Scottsdale, Ariz., will make his fifth consecutive start for Tech, having posted the best finish of his career (a tie for 7th) at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. After rounds of 72-69, he was 2-under-par through 12 holes in the final round and briefly held the lead before falling back to a 74 and a 1-under total of 215.
Having played well in team qualifying events, Griffin was unable to take that level of performance to the course at The Farm, tying for 71st at 12-over-par 228. But he closed with a 72 and has the ability to be a contributor.
“David keeps plugging away. This trip is a bit of a reward for how he played at The Farm,” said Heppler. “He hit a lot of fairways and greens there, and if he can do that again, it will make him very competitive at Inverness. J.T. has played very well at home in our nine rounds of qualifying. If he can make his play on the road a little more consistently, he would have a really good year.”
Tee times for Sunday’s first round begin at 12 noon. The second round starts on Monday at 9 a.m., while Tuesday’s final round begins at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring of the entire tournament can be found at www.golfstat.com.