April 20, 2006
Looking much improved in its last outing, Georgia Tech’s golf team heads to North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Championship in New London, N.C.
The tournament, a 54-hole event with 18 holes each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is being held for the 10th time at the Old North State Club at Uwharrie Point, a 7,032-yard, par-72 course approximately 50 miles north of Charlotte. Live scoring of the event will be provided at Golfstatresults.com.
Head coach Bruce Heppler will send senior Mike Barbosa, juniors Roberto Castro and Kevin Larsen, and freshmen Taylor Hall and Cameron Tringale to compete for the Yellow Jackets. That lineup has produced four top-five finishes in six chances, including both of the Yellow Jackets’ victories this year (Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, UH-Hilo Intercollegiate).
Paired with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest for Friday’s first round, the Yellow Jackets will tee off between 9:10 and 9:50 a.m. Tee times for Saturday and Sunday are based on team scores.
Georgia Tech has won two of the previous nine ACC Men’s Golf Championships held at the Old North State Club, and been runner up four other times, including last year. The Yellow Jackets have won eight ACC Championships altogether, three under Heppler (1999, 2001, 2002), and have seven runner-up finishes.
Tech’s last ACC title team was led by Matt Weibring and Nicholas Thompson, who tied for second place at seven-under-par 207. Five Yellow Jackets have won medalist honors at the ACC Championship – Bob McDonnell (1985), David Duval twice (1991, 1993), Mikko Rantanen (1994) and Bryce Molder, the most recent in 2000 and the only Tech player to win at the Old North State Club.
Tech shook off a spring slump by tying for fourth place at last week’s United States Collegiate Championship, an elite event hosted by the Yellow Jackets at The Golf Club of Georgia that featured nine of the nation’s top 20 teams. Barbosa, from St. Petersburg, Fla., tied for fourth place individually, matching the highest finish of his career. He closed with a four-under-par 68, opening the round with an eagle as part of a six-under-par front nine, and finished at three-under-par 213.
Following a surprisingly successful fall season in which they won the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and never finished below fourth in five events, the Yellow Jackets stumbled after a victory at the UH-Hilo Intercollegiate in the first spring competition. Tech finished 15th at the Puerto Rico Classic, ninth at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas and 10th at the Morris Williams Collegiate in Austin, Texas.
Tech remains ranked fourth in the nation in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the highest ranking of any ACC team. Clemson, which won the U.S. Collegiate Championship, is 13th, followed by Duke (15th), North Carolina (18th) and Wake Forest (19th).
“We were more competitive last week,” said Heppler. “The young guys did a tremendous job in where they finished, and Mike had a great event. As a group, we’re in a better position than we were. You only get so many of these in your career, and hopefully we’ll give our best effort this week.
“It’s a difficult game, because it’s hard to peak on the weeks you want to. There are huge swings that happen and everybody is not always at their best. Last year (in the ACC Tournament), we had four guys in the top 10, but we didn’t win.”
Heppler has played two freshmen in each stroke play event this year, with Tringale competing in every tournament. Hall has played six events and had the most success of the remaining first-year players, posting a fourth-place finish in the Jerry Pate event last fall.
Three Tech players rank among the nation’s top 30, including Larsen (10th), Castro (16th) and Tringale (27th). Larsen, with five top-10 finishes this year, has a stroke average of 72.44. Castro, with two top-10s and six top-20s, is next at 72.56, and Tringale, who won the UH-Hilo Intercollegiate and tied for eighth at the Morris Williams Collegiate this spring, is third at 72.81. They rank 6-7-8 among ACC players in scoring average for the year.
All three of Barbosa’s top-20 finishes this year have come in spring events, and the senior has an overall stroke average of 73.93. Hall, who tied for 21st at the U.S. Collegiate Championship, averages 74.05.
Among Tech’s current players, Castro has been the most successful in the ACC Championship, tying for fourth last year and for 11th as a freshman (stroke average of 71.67 in six rounds). Barbosa tied for 10th last year and for 15th in 2004 (72.33 average). Larsen tied for 24th last year and finished 37th as a freshman (75.17).
Among ACC teams this year, only Tech and Wake Forest have won twice. Clemson, Duke, Maryland and North Carolina each have one tournament title. Only Clemson has won a tournament – last week’s U.S. Collegiate Championship – in which the Yellow Jackets have been involved. Head-to-head, Tech is 13-5 against ACC teams in tournament action this year, 10-5 against those currently ranked among the Golfweek/Sagarin top 20.