Nov. 4, 2004
ATLANTA – Top-ranked Georgia Tech headlines an 18-team field for this week’s Carpet Capital Collegiate golf tournament that includes seven of the nation’s top 10 teams and 12 of the top 25 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin collegiate rankings.
The Carpet Capital Collegiate is played at The Farm in Rocky Face, Ga., a challenging 6,906-yard, par 72 layout that has attracted Tech, the host institution, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 New Mexico, No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Southern California, No. 7 TCU and No. 9 Texas, as well as No. 14 Augusta State, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 17 Wake Forest, No. 20 Duke and No. 23 Clemson.
The teams will begin the 54-hole event Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., with the second round scheduled for Saturday and the final 18 holes Sunday. Florida is the defending champion.
For the Yellow Jackets, the fall has been one of close calls against strong fields in each of its three events. Tech finished second at the Golfweek Preview and the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate earlier in the fall, and most recently took third in the Isleworth Invitational last week in Orlando, Fla.
“We were in position to win all three, really, because we were in the last group each time,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “Last time we got beat by a team that played really well throughout the lineup. The good thing is we have had a chance to win each time. To build a program, you want to be consistent year-in and year-out and also from tournament to tournament. Once they do that (win), it will become easier. I’m real happy with them. We’ve been competitive at home (in qualifying).
“One of the three or four major goals each year is to win this tournament. They’re excited about it. They’re frustrated at not having won yet. But it’s been like a national championship every week. This is probably the strongest field of the fall so far.”
Three of Tech’s players are ranked among the nation’s top 18 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, led by Robert Castro, a sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., who currently holds the No. 5 position. Castro has scored in the 60s in five of nine rounds, leads the Tech team in stroke average at 70.11 and has three top-10 finishes in three events.
“Just like the team, he’s been in the mix to win all three times,” said Heppler. “He has not won a college tournament, but he will if he keeps sticking his nose in there. Eventually, he’ll make some putts and another guy won’t play as well. He’s a smart player, and his ball-striking has really improved in the last two months.”
Nicholas Thompson, a senior from Coral Springs, Fla., has two top-10 showings and a 70.89 stroke average, and is ranked No. 12. Chan Song, a senior from Orlando, Fla., with three top-20 finishes and one top-10, has a stroke average of 71.33 and ranks 18th nationally.
Also in the Tech lineup for the Carpet Capital Collegiate are Mike Barbosa, a junior from St. Petersburg, Fla., and Kevin Larsen, a sophomore from Santa Barbara, Calif. Barbosa has a 72.22 stroke average, has finished in the top 10 once and the top 20 once in three events. Larsen, Tech’s No. 5 player last spring with four top-20 finishes, is seeing his first action of the fall, replacing junior Thomas Jordan in the lineup.
“Every one of [his qualifying performances] has gotten better,” Heppler said of Larsen. “He actually qualified and lost in a playoff for a spot. He finished in the top five the last time and didn’t get picked. But he’s getting more comfortable with what he’s doing. Once he gets his golf where he wants it, I think his instincts of winning and competing will take over.”
Tech, who finished fifth in the Carpet Capital Collegiate last fall, won the event three straight times between 1999 and 2001 and has won six times in the 15-year history of the tournament.
Results will be posted on Golfstatresults.com each day, with live scoring on the site available Saturday and Sunday.