May 15, 2008
Columbus, Ohio – Chesson Hadley fired a 1-over-par 72, an excellent score under difficult conditions Thursday, but 8th-ranked Georgia Tech posted a 23-over 307 as a team and stands in a tie for 21st place after the first round of the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.
The No. 3 seed at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course (7,419 yards, par 71), Tech is bidding to advance to the NCAA Championship for the 11th consecutive year and for the 22nd time in the last 26 years.
But the Jackets dug themselves in a deep hole on a day when winds became more severe as the afternoon went on that made an already difficult golf course even harder. Tech is eight strokes out of 10th place with 36 holes to play, and only the top 10 teams after 54 holes are completed on Saturday will advance to the NCAA Division I Championship in two weeks.
“We had four guys not play well today, and we’ve put ourselves in a hole,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “We’ll see if we can come out early in the morning and make up some ground, and the course will be a little softer. Now we’ve got to play two really good rounds to make it.”
Even Hadley, a sophomore All-American from Raleigh, N.C., was not immune to struggle Thursday, however, with a double-bogey at the par-3 17th that took him from 1-under to 1-over for the day. He is in a large group of players tied for 11th individually, three shots off the lead.
Only seven players broke par, Brendan Gielow of Wake Forest leading the way with a 2-unver 69. A group of five players is tied at 1-under-par 70, and another group of four is at even-par 71.
Heppler’s team counted 78’s from Taylor Hall and J.T. Griffin and a 79 from David Dragoo on Thursday. All-American Cameron Tringale (80) was a non-counter after a five-hole stretch on the back nine in which he posted four bogeys and a double-bogey.
Tech’s playing partners Thursday, Alabama and Oklahoma State, fared better at 8-over 292 and 9-over 293, and stand in second and third place, respectively. For round two on Friday, the three teams will tee off No. 10 between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Saturday’s tee times will be based in 36-hole results, with the top 15 teams playing in the morning wave.
Wake Forest, the only other Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Central Regional, shot 6-over 290 to take a two-shot lead over the top-seeded Crimson Tide. The rest of the top 10 includes the Cowboys, followed by Florida (294), Eastern Michigan (297), Texas A&M, Illinois and Michigan (298 each), Lamar and Ohio State (299 each).
In 17 previous NCAA regional qualifiers, Georgia Tech has never failed to advance to the championship. The Yellow Jackets’ lowest finish ever was a tie for seventh place.