May 26, 2003
ATLANTA – Following a second-place finish at the NCAA East Regional in Auburn, Ala., on May 17, the 13th-ranked Georgia Tech golf team will look to continue its recent run of postseason success when it travels to the 2003 NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla., May 27-30. The 72-hole tournament will be contested at the par-72, 7,301-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club and will be hosted by Oklahoma State University. The Yellow Jackets feature the defending NCAA individual medalist in senior Troy Matteson.
“You really have to hang in there out here all week,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler after Monday’s practice round. “It’s going to be a long week and it’s a very difficult golf course. The goal is certainly to have five guys playing well all at the same time, but that’s very rarely the case. I try to take the approach to have it be more of keeping everyone in the right frame of mind that no matter what point it is in the tournament, any guy can make a difference.”
Heppler was an assistant at Oklahoma State from 1991-95 when the host site for the tournament, Karsten Creek Golf Club was built. He hopes his knowledge of the course will be helpful to Tech. “I hope to have a little bit of advantage. Even if it’s just having the players believe that they have some type of edge out there could be helpful this week.
Georgia Tech will be making its 17th appearance in the event and has finished in the top four in four of the last five years. Leading the way for the Jackets will be Matteson, who is coming off of an impressive win at last week’s East Regional. Matteson blitzed the field in Auburn with a 15-under-par score of 201, which was the lowest total ever recorded by a Tech player in the event. While leading the team with a 70. 63 stroke average in 2003, Matteson has also moved into second on the school’s career scoring list with a 71.79 average.
“I think I’m playing well right now,” said Matteson on Monday. “I did well at the U.S. Open qualifier last week and obviously played well at the regional in winning that. This is one of the hardest courses that we’ll play in college golf. This really is the U.S. Open of college golf and that’s how it should be.”
Joining Matteson in the individual field will be sophomore Chan Wongluekiet, who turned in his top performance of the year at the regional, tying for 12th at 5-under-par, 211. He is currently third on the team with a 73.83 stroke average. Also in the event will be sophomore All-ACC performer Nicholas Thompson, who is second on the team with his 72.56 scoring average. The final two members of the Yellow Jacket contingent will be the same as they have been for the past seven tournaments with freshman Thomas Jordan and senior Adam Cranford playing in their 10th and ninth tourneys of the year respectively.
Tech has been a part of strong fields in each of its 11 tournaments this year and the NCAAs will be no difference, as the event will boast another outstanding field. All of the nation’s top-five-ranked teams with be competing, along with 23 of the top-25 teams in the country and 20 of the top-25 individuals according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. The complete 30-team field will be made up of (in order of seeding): Oklahoma State, UCLA, Clemson, Illinois, Arizona, Georgia Tech, NC State, UNLV, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky, New Mexico, Wake Forest, SMU, Washington, Augusta State, Minnesota, Southern California, Arkansas, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Wichita State, San Diego State, and Auburn.
The NCAA Championship will consist of 18 holes of play each day, with tee times starting each day at 7 a.m.. Georgia Tech will be grouped with fourth-seeded Illinois and fifth-seeded Arizona for the first two rounds, teeing off at 1:18 p.m. ET on the first day. Full tournament information is available at www.okstate.com and live scoring will be available at www.golfstatlive.com.