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Tech Finds Itself Last at NCAA Golf

May 31, 2006

Sunriver, Ore. – On a day when scoring conditions were favorable, Georgia Tech had trouble keeping the ball in play off the tee and shot a 13-over-par 301 Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship at Crosswater Golf Club.

The Yellow Jackets, the nation’s fourth-ranked team, find themselves in last place among the 30 teams after 18 holes and needing two very good rounds Thursday and Friday to contend. Tech plays in the morning wave Thursday, teeing off at 11:17 a.m. Eastern time.

The NCAA Championship is a 72-hole event which lasts through Saturday. A cut to the top 15 teams will be made after Friday’s round.

Wake Forest shot 11-under-par 277 in the morning, and the score stood up for a three-shot lead after everyone finished. UCLA is in second place at 280, followed by Washington and Oklahoma State at 281, Clemson at 282, Kentucky at 283. Florida, NC State and Oklahoma are tied for seventh at 284.

Click here for complete results and tee times for Thursday.

“You just have to keep playing,” said head coach Bruce Heppler, whose team shot four-under-par over 54 holes here in a September tournament. “The good news is, there’s an extra day. You come out and shoot the low round of the day, then you have a chance to get yourself back into it. The next two are going to have to be really, really good.”

None of Tech’s players seemed immune to trouble Wednesday, as freshman Cameron Tringale paced the Jackets after a one-over-par 73. Mike Barbosa came in at 75, followed by Kevin Larsen at 76, Roberto Castro at 77 and Taylor Hall at 81, which did not count toward Tech’s team score.

Castro’s round included a topsy-turvy opening nine in which he did not par one hole, recording four birdies, three bogeys, a double-bogey and a triple-bogey.

Tech, which played the back nine first on Wednesday, played numbers five through eight coming home in eight-over-par, posting five bogeys and two double-bogeys.

“If you don’t drive it well, it’s hard. If you drive it well, it’s not that difficult,” lamented Heppler. “When you’re dropping and re-teeing, you’ve got no chance. We had too many penalty shots. We’ve had days this year when we’ve not driven the ball well, and that’s what happened today.”

The malaise reared itself during a spring slump in which the Jackets posted rounds of 300 or higher in three separate events in Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and Austin, Texas. Tech also posted an opening 305 in its own Carpet Capital Collegiate in the fall, but followed that with a 275 in round two.

“When we’ve found it, we’ve played really well,” Heppler said. “The bad tournaments we’ve had this spring came when we didn’t drive the ball well, and that’s what happened today.”

Wake’s Kyle Reifers leads the individual race after a seven-under-par 65, followed by Pablo Martin of Oklahoma State at 66, and Alex Prugh of Washington at 67. Fifty players out of the 156 competitors, and 12 of the 30 teams, broke par on Wednesday.

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