March 11, 2009
ATLANTA – Heading into the meat of its spring schedule, Georgia Tech’s golf team heads to Las Vegas, Nev., to face several of the nation’s top 25 teams in the Southern Highlands Collegiate, beginning Friday.
The 15-team field includes 11 of the nation’s top 25 teams, and the other four are listed among the top 50. The 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets are joined by No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Southern California, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 6 Florida and No. 9 Arizona State among others. The 54-hole event is being played at the 7,510-yard, par-72 Southern Highlands Golf Club, and live scoring can be viewed at www.golfstatresults.com.
Tech has played in this event nine times, winning in 2001 and 2002, but has finished no higher than sixth in the five years it has been held at Southern Highlands. Tee times begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Every week, we know where the NCAA bar is by playing in these tournaments,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “It’s great golf course, demanding and difficult. This course demands many of the same things that Inverness does.”
Heppler will take the same five players to Las Vegas that played in the Yellow Jackets’ first two spring events – seniors Cameron Tringale and David Dragoo, sophomore John-Tyler Griffin and freshmen James White and Minghao Wang.
Tringale, an All-American from Laguna Niguel, Calif., has finished in the top 20 in five of six events this year, capturing the title at the Brickyard Collegiate in the fall and posting three other top-10s. The nation’s 10th-ranked player according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, leads Tech and ranks fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in stroke average at 71.50.
Dragoo, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native playing in his ninth straight event as a travel squad member, has one top-20 finish this spring and three overall this year. Ranked No. 62 in the nation, Dragoo has a 73.38 stroke average which ranks 16th in the ACC.
White, a true freshman from Acworth, Ga., playing in his fifth collegiate event, tied for sixth laast time out in the Puerto Rico Classic (6-under-par 208), pacing the Yellow Jackets to a fifth-place finish against a field that included several top-25 teams. White has averaged 74.33 strokes over 12 rounds this year.
“James has done a good job in qualifying this year, had a decent finish in Macon, and of course, played very well in Puerto Rico,” said Heppler. “He works very hard and does the things that allow him to be successful. Hopefully his confidence is growing, and he believes he can compete out there among the best.”
Griffin, a sophomore from Wilson, N.C., who has played in every event this year, has one top-10 finish and has averaged 74.00 strokes over 18 rounds. Wang, a true freshman from Reunion, Fla., has struggled in two spring events but captured the fifth spot via team qualifying.
“We need more guys to challenge for the individual title if we’re going to win a team title,” said Heppler. “The best way to win a tournament is to put three or four guys in the top 10 individually.”