Feb. 22, 2016
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – Vincent Whaley fired a 4-under-par 68 and two other Georgia Tech players broke par Monday as the Yellow Jackets moved into a tie for fifth place after 36 holes of the Puerto Rico Classic.
TECH LINEUP – Whaley bounced back from an opening 75 Sunday to lead the Yellow Jackets in the second round, putting together a five-birdie, one-bogey round for his third 68 in five spring rounds. He advanced to a tie for 23rd place headed to Tuesday’s final round with a 1-under-par total of 143.
Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) and Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.) each shot 71 Monday to join Whaley in breaking par. Joiner birdied four holes to offset three bogeys, while Petefish birdied three holes with two bogeys. Joiner’s round, coupled with his opening 68, has him in a tie for fifth place individually at 5-under-par 139, while Petefish’s pair of 71s has him tied for 14th place at 2-under 142.
Joiner, who did not play in Tech’s spring opener in Hawai’i, has shot five consecutive subpar rounds (69, 71, 71, 68 and 71) dating back to the final round of the United States Collegiate Championship.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Tech got off to a hot start on the 6,945-yard River Course, playing the back nine in 9-under-par, before settling back to a 5-under-par 283, a three-shot improvement over Sunday’s opening round. The Yellow Jackets’ 36-hole total of 569 (-7) has them in a three-way tie for fifth with No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 28 Kentucky, six shots off the pace set by 17th-ranked Alabama.
The Crimson Tide, winner of this event two years ago, slipped back to a 1-under-par 287 Monday but held onto its lead with a 36-hole total of 563 (-13). No. 11 Clemson (7-under 281) and No. 10 Georgia (8-under 280), the defending champion, posted the day’s best scores and are tied for second place, one shot behind Alabama at 12-under-par 564. No. 20 North Carolina is in fourth place at 11-under 565.
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 – Alabama’s Jonathan Hardee (137, -7), added a 2-under-par 70 to his opening 67 and remains in first place, one stroke ahead of three players, North Carolina’s William Register, Purdue’s Austin Eoff and Kentucky’s Stephen Stallings, who have two-round totals of 138 (-6).
Joiner is tied for fifth with Maryland’s David Kocher and Georga’s Sepp Straka at 139 (-5). Petefish is in a group of nine players tied for 14th at 142 (-2).
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “Today we opened in the part of the course where good scoring is very possible, and we played those holes very well. It was another good step forward for our guys. I’m very pleased with Vince’s response to a disappointing first round.”
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).