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Swinging Away

May 8, 2007

By Scott MacDonald – Matt Kuchar, Bill McDonald and Cameron Tringale. The only three Georgia Tech golfers to win a tournament as freshmen. The difference? Tringale was the first freshman to win an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, doing so with a 10-under-par score of 206 last year at The Old North State Club in New London, N.C.

“It was pretty special,” said Tringale. “I don’t think I realized how important the ACC Tournament is until long after the victory. It was especially exciting because I birdied the final hole to win by one.”

This year, Tringale fell a stroke short of another ACC title, at the same course, but he duplicated his 54th-hole birdie to lift the Yellow Jackets into a tie for the conference crown for the second straight year, and in doing so continued a spring renaissance for the golf team.

Tringale, though he hasn’t won a tournament this year, has been at the forefront with four top-10 finishes in five spring events, and is always one of the favorites for medalist honors anytime he tees it up.

“I think other people may have had expectations of their own,” said Tringale. “As for me, I play without expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I have goals that I want to achieve, but I made a point this year to try not to compare this year to last, especially as far as what I `should’ accomplish.”

The sophomore from Laguna Niguel, Calif., and the Jackets now have their sights set on the NCAA East Regional, which will be held Nov. 17-19 at the team’s home course, The Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta. The top 10 finishers in that event, as well as each of the other two regional tournaments held at the same time, will qualify to compete for the NCAA Championship on May 30-June 2 in Williamsburg, Va.

“Well, it hasn’t been a perfect year, but I think we’re playing better now than we have all year,” said Tringale after the Jackets finished tied for fourth at the United States Collegiate Championship, also at The Golf Club of Georgia.

A second-team All-American selection last season, Tringale will be a big part of whatever success the Jackets enjoy at the regional and NCAA Championship, which Tech would qualify for if it finishes in the top 10. Tringale ranks second on the team with a scoring average of 70.94 this spring and has been the top finisher for Tech in its last two events.

“I learned that your game can get good at any moment,” said Tringale. “A lot of what I learned was just experience, and the feeling of being in contention in a meaningful event, playing for your team, all that kind of stuff.”

In contention is something that Tringale did over the final three tournaments of his freshman campaign. After winning the ACC tourney, Tringale posted a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Regional (+1) and an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Tournament (-3).

This year, Tringale has four top-10 finishes, including the UH-Hilo Invitational (T5), Southern Highlands Collegiate (T10), and the U.S. Collegiate Championship (T8) before his runner-up showing at the ACC Championship.

“It is huge advantage having the regional at our home course,” said Tringale. “It will be especially nice because we won’t have to travel, so it should be pretty relaxed. But The Golf Club of Georgia is a great course to have local knowledge on because the greens are very difficult and it is important to know where to leave your approach shots.”

Playing college golf is something that Tringale has always aspired to do, but it is not his favorite pairing. “I started playing golf when I was 10 because of a friend. My dad also played, my brother [Jon] started when I did, so that was a pretty popular foursome.”

Now Tringale and the Jackets will head back to the course that he and his team know best.

“We are focused on regionals right now,” said Tringale, who just finished spring semester finals. “We are starting to hit our groove and I think that we will make some noise heading into postseason play.”


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