Feb. 18, 2012
ATLANTA – Following a fourth-place finish at the Amer Ari Invitational two weeks ago in Hawai’i, Georgia Tech swings back into action Sunday at the Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Tech, the nation’s 5th-ranked team, is playing in the U.S. territory for the 19th straight year, and this year’s event includes seven teams ranked among the nation’s top 50.
The 54-hole tournament is played Sunday through Tuesday at the Westin Rio Mar Resort’s River Course, and the 15-team field includes top-ranked Texas, No. 8 Alabama, No. 13 Clemson, No. 21 Oklahoma State, No. 26 Georgia, No. 34 Oklahoma and No. 48 Purdue. The Yellow Jackets will see some competition from within the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time this spring, facing North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech in addition to Clemson.
Tech has won five events played in Puerto Rico dating back to 1993.
“We’ve had a good qualifier here, and we had some good competition from the guys to go to this event,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “We saw a lot of the good West Coast teams out in Hawai’i, and now we’re going to see a lot of the good East Coast teams in this one. We’re looking forward to build on the success that we’ve had.”
All-American James White, ranked 21st nationally, picked up one of his two victories last year at this event, and is joined on the Tech travel squad by sophomore Bo Andrews, who is working on a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes, sophomore Richard Werenski and freshmen Anders Albertson and Ollie Schniederjans.
White, a senior from Acworth, Ga., tied for fourth place in Hawai’i and has not finished outside the top 20 individually in five events this year. Andrews, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., has finished 9th, 8th and 6th in his last three tournaments and has moved up to 55th in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
“Bo didn’t play last year, so he’s kind of starting all over again as if he were a freshman,” said Heppler. “He’s getting comfortable with his situation. He’s put on a lot of weight and strength so he’s hitting the ball farther off the tee, and hitting a lot shorter clubs into holes right now.”
Albertson is ranked 33rd in the strength of an excellent fall season, which included two top-10 finishes, while Werenski is No. 65 with one top-10 finish in three events. They tied for 35th at Hawai’i.
All of Tech’s players going to Puerto Rico have scoring averages at 72.0 is better except Schniederjans, who stands at 73.4 over 15 rounds. White, at 71.4 over 15 rounds, ranks fourth in the ACC, while Albertson ranked sixth at 71.67 and Andrews is eighth at 72 even. Werenski also averages 72.0 but has played only nine rounds.