April 3, 2008
– As it prepares for the post-season, beginning with the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in two weeks, Georgia Tech’s seventh-ranked golf team tackles another top-flight field beginning Friday when it competes in the Administaff Augusta State Invitational in Evans, Ga.
Tech also is sending three individuals to play in the Yale Spring Opener Saturday and Sunday in New Haven, Conn., as head coach Bruce Heppler begins considering what his lineup will look like for the conference championship and beyond.
Six of the nation’s top 18 teams, and 12 of the nation’s top 50, are entered in the ASU Invitational, which begins Friday at Champions Retreat Golf Club, a 7,265-yard, par 72 course outside of Augusta. Tech is joined by No. 2 Georgia and No. 5 UCLA, both of whom played in last week’s United States Collegiate Championship, as well at No. 10 Tennessee, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 18 Clemson.
Leading the way for Tech are its two All-Americans, Cameron Tringale and Chesson Hadley, who have combined for five top-10 finishes in four events and averaged 70.88 strokes per round between them. Also in the Tech lineup for head coach Bruce Heppler this week are juniors Taylor Hall and David Dragoo and red-shirt freshman J.T. Griffin. They have played the best against the stronger fields and more difficult golf courses.
“Everyone felt good about the last tournament,” said Heppler of Tech’s fourth-place performance in the United States Collegiate Championship last week. “Everyone got to play, and we settled on these five to go play at Augusta. It’s also very positive that the other three can go play at Yale. This is the time of year when we need to cut down and see who can play best going forward. We’ve got to figure out who our best five are. It’s a good field here. Many of the teams we’ll see at the conference championship and the regionals are here.”
Tringale, a junior from Laguna Niguel, Calif. Averaging 71.75 for the year, has leaped from outside the top 100 to No. 27 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, finishing no lower than a tie for 17th (Puerto Rico Classic) in four spring tournaments. Hadley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., averaging a team-best 70.67 for the year, tied for 28th in the USCC last week after finished of ninth, sixth and 12th in the first three spring events.
“We had some rounds from some guys we haven’t had all year,” said Heppler. “John Tyler (Griffin) had a better tournament, and Taylor Hall had a couple of good days. That’s where the improvement needs to come from. For us to be competitive when Tringale and Hadley aren’t carrying the whole load says a lot about what we need to do.”
Hall, from LaGrange, Ga., played his best golf of the spring last week in a tie for 21st at the USCC, closing with a 4-under-par 68. He carries the team’s third-best stroke average (73.72). Dragoo, from Scottsdale, Ariz., averages 75.10 with a tie for 39th at the UH Hilo his best finish of the spring. Griffin, from Wilson, N.C., has played only three team events, but they were played on the toughest courses the Jackets have seen this year – Isleworth in Orlando, Southern Highlands in Las Vegas, and The Golf Club of Georgia – and he has averaged 75.78 in those nine rounds.
Georgia Tech, Tennessee and South Carolina are paired together for Friday’s first round at Champions Retreat, slated for an 8:45 tee time.
Saturday and Sunday morning’s tee times are slated to begin at 8:00 a.m. as well. Players will begin on the Island (Palmer) nine on Friday morning and on the Creek (Player) nine on Saturday morning. Split tees will be utilized Sunday morning, with the top half of the field beginning on the Island nine and teams in 10th through 18th place beginning their final rounds on the Creek nine.
The three Tech golfers not competing at Augusta this week – junior Adam Cohan, red-shirt freshman Paul Haley and sophomore Daniel Bowden – are entered as individuals the Yale Spring Opener, a 36-hole event being held at the Course at Yale. The course has been the site of NCAA regional and championship events in past years.