Updated May 31, 2010
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Championship Central (includes schedule of events, driving directions, The Honors Course and area hotels and attractions)
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team, ranked 15th in the nation by Golfstat and 17th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, is the No. 14 seed for the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship, being held June 1-6, at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. The Yellow Jackets will be paired with No. 13 Florida and No. 15 UNLV for the first two rounds Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Atlantic Coast Conference champion Yellow Jackets finished third in last week’s NCAA Southeast Regional, making the Finals field for the 24th time since 1985. Tech will begin its first round off the No. 10 tee at 1:47 p.m. next Tuesday (June 1), and the second round from the first tee at 8:35 a.m. Wednesday. The Thursday final round pairings and tee times will be determined by 36-hole scores.
The format for the event is 54 holes of stroke play Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (June 1-3) to crown an individual champion and provide a cut to eight teams. Those eight, seeded by their finish in the medal format, will play single-elimination match play Friday, Saturday and Sunday (June 4-6) to determine the national champion.
The Honors Course, a 7,395-yard, par 72 layout, has held the NCAA Championship once before, in 1996 when Arizona State captured the title. Tickets for the championship are $45 for the week, $15 for a one-day pass and can be ordered online.
The Yellow Jackets, who earned an automatic regional by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last month, shot 5-over-par 845 over 54 holes at the Capital City Club Crabapple in the Southeast Regional, finishing four shots behind Oklahoma State, the third seed in the Finals.
Tech Closing Well in Post-Season
Georgia Tech has managed to finish fast in both the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and the NCAA Southeast Regional, and has played its best golf of the year in those two events, averaging 281 for its six post-season rounds.
Tech won the ACC title by 13 shots over Virginia, having led by as many as 19 strokes over the final round, and finished with a 23-under-par total of 841 (279-276-286) on the par-72 Old North Club.
At the Southeast Regional, played on the par-70 Capital City Club Crabapple Course in Alpharetta, Ga., the Yellow Jackets shot 287-286-272 for a 54-hole total of 845, 5-over par. But the final-round total of 272 included four 68s and was the best score ever shot by Tech in one round of a regional. It was also the low score of the year for the Jackets in a single round.
Individually, John-Tyler Griffin turned in his best performance since the early spring, tying for third at 1-under-par 209, which included a pair of 68s. Chesson Hadley, the ACC Champion, tied for eighth at even-par 210 with a closing 68. Kyle Scott, who tied for 12th at the ACC Championship, and Paul Haley, who tied for fourth, also closed with 68s.
Head Coach Bruce Heppler on …
The championship format – “I think it’s great. I was a little bit involved in what we’ve come up with. We had a format that no one really understood. We would play around for four days, and then it was `you won.’ No one really got any credit for being second or third or fourth or fifth. If you think about the basketball tournament, you’ve got the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the Final Four. In our deal, the only thing that mattered was who won. So this changes things. We play for three days and cut to eight. Fans understand that, and players understand that. Now it’s you versus Texas or you versus Oklahoma State. It’s me versus you, us versus them. We finished 10th last year and didn’t get in (the match play bracket), but it was some of the most fun golf those guys had ever played.”
On the experience of the players who participated last year – “they know you’ve got to play well to get to eight. You’ve got to play well for three days, and we’re capable of doing that.”
On the mindset of the team now – “They’re excited. It’s a great time of year. There’s no class, and they can practice eight or nine hours and still get the rest that they need. They’ve worked really hard since Crabapple, and I think they’re ready to go.”
Senior Chesson Hadley on …
The Honors Course – “Fortunately, we’ve played the course a couple of time recently, so we’re out here hitting shots around the greens we know we’re going to see. Anytime oyu can play a course before you get there, it’s a huge advantage. We felt we had an advantage at Crabapple, having played there several times during the semester.”
Tech’s team and its recent play – “Coach referred a lot to Duke’s national (basketball) championship team this year. They weren’t the greatest team, but they all rallied around one goal. Our goal was to win the ACC Championship, and to play well after that. After we won the ACC, we all believed in ourselves more. Even though our first two rounds at Crabapple weren’t that great, we still believed in ourselves and went out and shot a great round the final day and almost won. We believe we can go to the national championship and compete. Everyone’s playing really well now, so we’re looking forward to it.”
About the Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech will use the same lineup this week with which it won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship last month in New London, N.C., and finished third at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Senior Chesson Hadley, who took the ACC Championship medslist honor by two shots in April, junior John-Tyler Griffin and sophomore James White anchor the Tech team this year along with juniors Kyle Scott and Paul Haley.
Hadley, Griffin and White each were named to the All-ACC team and have combined for 18 top-20 finishes, 10 of those in the top 10.
Griffin is ranked 30th nationally in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, while White is 51st. They rank third and sixth among ACC individuals in stroke average, Griffin at 71.97 and White at 72.25. Griffin has seven top-20 finishes this year, six of those in the top 10, with a tie for third at the NCAA Southeast Regional. White has seven top-20 finishes, two in the top 10. Both players have improved their stroke averages by more than two shots per round over last year.
Hadley, third on the Tech squad with a 72.55 stroke average, has four top-20 showings, including his ACC title and a tie for eighth at the regional.
Scott, averaging 73.33, has four top-20 showings, including three in the top 10. Haley (74.04 average) has four top-20s, including a tie for fourth at the ACC Championship, and has played his best golf of the year in Tech’s last four events (T19 at Linger Longer, T15 at Wolfpack Intercollegiate, T4 at ACC, T41 at the regional).