Oct. 25, 2010
Alpharetta, Ga. – Georgia Tech moved into position to win its first United States Collegiate Championship Monday, taking an 11-shot lead into Tuesday’s final round at The Golf Club of Georgia’s Lakeside Course.
The host team of this prestigious event, Georgia Tech shot a team score of 3-under-par 285 Monday for a 36-hole score of 20-under-par 556, which easily established a USCC record, bettering Clemson’s 2006 mark by 18 strokes.
Georgia Tech junior James White followed his magical 62 on opening day with a second-round 70 to lead the individual race by six strokes at 12-under 132.
The 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets were one of only three teams shooting under par Monday and own a comfortable lead over Southern California, which shot 9-under 279 Monday for a total of 9-under 567. Texas A&M stands third, 14 shots back, after a 2-under 286 in the second round. No.1-ranked UCLA is fourth, 17 shots off the pace.
It could be an extremely satisfying Tuesday for Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler, who has watched Clemson (twice), Georgia and Southern California win team titles in the USCC since its inception in 2006. Tech’s best finish was a third in 2009, when the event was played in the spring. Capitalizing on course conditions in the fall that are more typical of what the Yellow Jackets frequently face on the Lakeside Course in practice sessions, they have not wasted the opportunity, losing just two strokes from their first-day lead.
“The hardest part when you get ahead is to try and get further ahead.” Heppler said. “I feel good about it, but I can’t ever get far enough ahead. In a college golf tournament when you’re counting those scores, 5, 6, 7, 8 shots can disappear on three swings.”
“I know I’ve learned this in 25 years,” Heppler said. “If (you’re leading and) you shoot the low score tomorrow, you can’t lose. . . .We’re 11 shots better than when we started the tournament, and you’re never going to complain about that.”
The second round was delayed by thunderstorms Monday morning, but finished on time after adjusting to a two-tee start. Tuesday’s final round will return to the original schedule, with all teams going off the No. 1 tee at 9 a.m.
White, a junior from Acworth, Ga., who established a new competitive course record Monday with his 10-under round, is attempting to win his first college event and his first overall victory since capturing the AAAAA State Championship in 2008. He broke the 36-hole scoring record Monday by three shots, bettering Webb Simpson’s mark of 135, set in 2006 with Wake Forest.
While following such a low round is always challenging, White hung in nicely, though he made two bogeys coming toward the clubhouse, at 15 and 17. Southern California’s Steve Lim is in second place individually after his second 69, for 6-under 138. Tech’s Paul Haley (140) is tied for fourth.
“Any time I can shoot under par around here, I’ll walk home happy,” White said. “I did what I had to do today.”