Feb. 21, 2016
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – Jacob Joiner fired a 4-under-par 68 Sunday, and Georgia Tech opened with a 2-under-par 286 and stands in seventh place after the first round of the Puerto Rico Classic.
TECH LINEUP – Joiner, who did not play in Tech’s spring opener in Hawai’i, birdied six holes on the way to his best round since opening the Carpet Capital Collegiate with a 66, which spurred him to the individual title in Tech’s fall opener. The sophomore from Leesburg, Ga., has shot 69, 71, 71 and now 68 in his last four rounds dating back to the final round of the United States Collegiate Championship.
Sophomore Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.) also broke par for the Yellow Jackets, carding a 1-under-par 71, while junior Michael Hines (Acworth, Ga.) played the River Course in even-par 72. Junior Vincent Whaley, Tech’s top finisher (T-5) in Hawai’i, was the Jackets’ fourth counting score with a 75.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Alabama, winner of this event two years ago and ranked 17th, rode four subpar rounds to a 12-under-par 276, two strokes ahead of No. 20 North Carolina (278, -10), which had three players break 70 and a fourth play even par. No. 14 Oklahoma (281, -7) is in third place, followed by No. 11 Clemson (283, -5), defending champion and 10th-ranked Georgia (284, -4) and No. 28 Kentucky (285, -3).
The 15 teams in the field are all ranked among the nation’s top 100 in the Golfstat rankings, and includes nine of the nation’s top 50 teams – Georgia (10), Clemson (11), Oklahoma (14), Purdue (15), Alabama (17), North Carolina (20), Kentucky (28), NC State (37), Georgia Tech (50), Michigan (55), Northwestern (58), UNC Greensboro (66), Virginia Tech (83), Maryland (81) and Minnesota (92).
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Joiner is in a four-way tie for second place with Clemson’s Cody Proveaux, Alabama’s Davis Riley and North Carolina’s Carter Jenkins, just one stroke off the lead, held by the Crimson Tide’s Jonathan Hardee, who shot 5-under-par 67.
Five players are tied for sixth place at 69, while six more shot 70 and are tied for 11th. Petefish is in a group of 15 players who shot 71, tied for 17th place.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “We started on the most difficult part of the golf course and got off to a tough start, but we played well at the end of the day. Jacob was very solid all day, and Michael and Chris both played very well over the last 10 holes. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for us.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its 16th appearance in the Puerto Rico Classic, typically the second event on the Yellow Jackets’ spring schedule after its opening trip to Hawai’i, and is making its 23rd all-time trip to Puerto Rico for a collegiate event. The 54-hole event runs from Sunday through Tuesday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. each day. It is played at the 6,945-yard, par 72 River Course at the Rio Mar Beach and Spa Resort.
The Yellow Jackets have finished second in the Puerto Rico Classic each of the last two years, posting a 5-under-par score of 859 last year and a 41-under-par 823 in 2014. Tech has won the tournament four times, most recently in 2005. Individual Tech champions include Troy Matteson (2002), Roberto Castro (2007) and James White (2011).