April 18, 2008
New London, N.C. – Trying to erase a poor beginning to its round, Georgia Tech rallied to play the back nine in 5-under-par, but the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets find themselves in seventh place and eight shots off the lead after the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship.
The Jackets made up six shots to par on the last three holes at the 7,100-yard, par 72 Old North State Club at Uwharrie Point, including three birdies at the par-5 18th, to finish at 1-under 287. But despite near-perfect weather conditions that included only a hint of a breeze off the adjacent Badin Lake, Tech had to dig itself from a hole made by playing the first three holes three shots over par and the front nine 4-over-par.
“It was a decent round, but it was out there for us to shoot a really low score,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “If you’re within five or six shots, two good rounds will give you a chance to win the golf tournament. We let it slip out of our hands and into somebody else’s.
Duke, which received a pair of 69s from Michael Schachner and Matthew Pierce, fired a 9-under 279 and shared the first-round lead with Florida State. Matthew Savage shot a 4-under 68, and defending medalist Jonas Blixt added a 69 for the Seminoles. North Carolina is in third place at 6-under 282, while NC State, Clemson and Wake Forest are tied for fourth at 4-under 284.
Taylor Hall, who birdied his final two holes, and Cameron Tringale each posted 1-under 71s for the Yellow Jackets Friday, while Chesson Hadley birdied two of the final three holes to finish even-par 72. Junior David Dragoo, playing in his first ACC Championship, was the Jackets’ fourth counting player with a 73.
When Tech, which teed off first Friday along with Clemson, left the course, it was four shots off the pace. But that margin only widened as the afternoon went on.
“We had two guys playing in their first ACC Championship; one played well and one did not,” Heppler added. “We need our two All-Americans to play better. When you get a 1-over from Dave and a 1-under from Taylor, and you think, that’s not too bad. The other two have to be on the lead individually for us to be successful.”
Hall and Tringale are tied for 15th place, four shots behind the pace set by the Wolfpack’s Matt Hill, who coasted to a 5-under-par 67. Savage was joined by North Carolina’s Chase McFarland and Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson at 68. Blixt, Schachner and Pierce are part of a five-way tie for fifth at 69. Five players, including the Blue Devils’ Wes Roach, are tied for 10th place at 70.
Weather forecasts for Saturday include afternoon thunderstorms. The Yellow Jackets will tee off between 9:10 and 9:50 a.m., paired with Virginia Tech and Virginia, the eighth- and ninth-place teams.