March 22, 2011
Ball Ground, Ga. – Paul Haley and Richard Werenski went to the final hole with slim leads but both held on in the final two matches of the day, lifting 4th-ranked Georgia Tech to a 3-2 victory over 7th-ranked Texas A&M Tuesday in the fifth-place match at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship.
With the Yellow Jackets trailing 2-1 in the match, Haley led by two holes with four to play, and Werenski led by three with four to play. Both players wound up having to play their matches to the final hole.
Werenski, playing No. 4 for Tech, won consecutive holes at No. 1, 2 and 3 to take a three-hole lead over A&M’s Cameron Peck with five holes remaining. But the freshman from South Hadley, Mass., made a pair of mistakes in trying to lay up and protect his lead at the fourth and sixth holes, reducing his advantage to one hole heading to No. 7, their final hole. Werenski made birdie there, however, to close out the match, 1-up.
That left Haley, a senior from Dallas, Texas, facing perhaps the longest hitter in the event in Aggie senior John Hurley, to win the deciding match at No. 5. He lost the par-5 seventh hole to slice his lead in half, but made par at the par-4 eighth to halve the hole with Hurley and win, 1-up for Tech’s clinching point.
“I just tried to stay in the moment and realize that this is what it’s all about,” said Haley. “I was two up with four to play, and that’s a good spot to be in. I was able to keep it together on the last few holes and make a couple clutch putts, birdie and par putts on five and six.
“[Hurley] was hitting it probably 60 or 70 yard by me all day, by everybody in our group. I just tried not to pay attention to it until we got to the greens. I just tried to play my shots and play my game. I know that works for me.”
James White provided the Yellow Jackets with their first point of the day, getting an easy 5 and 4 win over the Aggies’ Jordan Russell in the No. 1 match. The junior from Acworth, Ga., finished the tournament 4-0 in his matches. Haley and Werenski each went 3-1 for the week.
“This is a great experience for these guys that you can’t simulate at home,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “To get four days of the emotions of match play is very good. We played well today against a very good team that won the NCAA Championship in this format. We got some big wins from some guys who got leads and then closed them out. All in all, a very good day. We feel good that we have five guys who can come out here and win matches on any given day.”
After White got Tech on the board, the 2009 NCAA Champion Aggies took the lead in the overall match with wins in the second and third matches. Conrad Shindler eased past John-Tyler Griffin, 5 and 4, while Ignacio Elvira got by Kyle Scott, 2 and 1. Both Tech players had a tough week, each tying one match and losing three.
Duke hammered Illinois, 4-1, to win the championship match Tuesday, while Southern California defeated Texas Tech, 4-1, for third place. UCLA got by East Tennessee State for seventh place in a tiebreaker after tying, 2-2-1, while Iowa got by Georgia, 3-1-1, to capture ninth place. The 11th-place match went to Pacific over Alabama, 3-1-1, while South Carolina defeated Washington State, 3-1-1, for 13th place and Texas beat Balor, 4-1, for 15th place.
Tech is off until its hosts the Yellow Jackets Invitational at the Golf Club of Georgia, Apr. 16-17. Three individuals – William Miller, Minghao Wang and Seth Reeves – will compete in the Grub Mart Golf Intercollegiate next Monday and Tuesday in Glencoe, Ala.
CALLAWAY COLLEGIATE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Hawks Ridge Golf Club, Ball Ground, Ga.
GEORGIA TECH d. TEXAS A&M, 3-2
James White (GT) d. Jordan Russell (A&M), 5 and 4
Conrad Shindler (A&M) d. John-Tyler Griffin (GT), 5 and 4
Ignacio Elvira (A&M) d. Kyle Scott (GT), 2 and 1
Richard Werenski (GT) d. Cameron Peck (A&M), 1-up
Paul Haley (GT) d. John Hurley (A&M), 1-up