ATLANTA (May 29) – The top-seeded Georgia Tech men’s golf team will look to reverse its fortunes of a year ago and make a strong run at capturing the school’s first national title when it travels to Opelika, Ala., for the 2000 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships.
The 72-hole event will be contested at the par-72, 6,943-yard, Lake Course at the Grand National Golf Club. The tourney will feature 18 teams that are ranked in the top-25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Included in that group are the Yellow Jackets, who are ranked No. 1.
Tech qualified for the NCAA Championships by way of its third-place finish at the NCAA East Regional in Moosic, Pa. on May 18-20. Despite being unable to defend its East Regional title from the 1999 season, Georgia Tech is making its third-straight appearance at the NCAAs, and 14th in the program’s history.
The Yellow Jackets will be looking to return to the form that they showed at the 1998 NCAA Championships, when they finished third with a four-day total of 1122. In 1999, Tech missed the cut after 36 holes and finished 28th.
“We’ve really not tried to focus on what went wrong. I don’t believe that serves anything. We’ve moved on and are getting ready to do our best again,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler of 1999’s performance.
The surroundings for the NCAAs will be somewhat familiar to the Jackets, as they competed on the same circuit in September at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Invitational. In that event, Tech finished fourth, with a three-day, even-par total of 864.
“We played there in the fall. It’s a course that requires a lot of thinking off the tee,” Heppler said of the Grand National layout. “The greens are very undulating – you have to put your ball in the right spot. It’s a very challenging course and we’re looking forward to playing.”
Leading the Yellow Jacket contingent in the event will be senior Matt Kuchar (Lake Mary, Fla.), who currently leads the team with a 70.63 stroke average. Kuchar’s top finish at the NCAAs was a tie for seventh at the 1998 Championship. This year, Kuchar finished in the top-10 in eight of the ten events in which he played, and tied for medalist honors with teammate Bryce Molder at the Waikoloa Intercollegiate in Waikoloa, Hawaii. Junior Bryce Molder (Conway, Ark.) will be another player to watch this week, as he has won three tournaments this season, including the ACC Championship. Molder, who is currently the top-ranked player according to the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, will carry a 70.75 stroke average into the event. Named the ACC Player of the Year for the second straight season, Molder has finished in the top-20 in each of the 11 events he has played in this year. His top NCAA performance was a sixth-place showing in1998.
Freshman Troy Matteson (Austin, Tex.) and senior Carlton Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) will join Kuchar and Molder in the event. Matteson finished the regular season and the ACC Championships in strong fashion, as he collected three-straight top-20 finishes, including a tie for fifth at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. His 64 in the second round of that event ranks as the best round by a Tech player this year. He carries a 72.90 stroke average into the NCAAs.
Forrester also had a solid spring, as he had four top-20 finishes in six events, including a tie for 10th at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. He currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring, with a 73.38 stroke average in nine events. His top round this season was a 67 in the second round of the Golf World Palmetto Dunes Invitational. His top finish of the year came at the NCAA East Regional, where he tied for 14th with teammate Matt Kuchar at 7-over-par. Forrester will be competing in his third NCAA Championship, with his best finish being a tie for 65th in 1998.
Rounding out the Yellow Jackets in the NCAA field will be sophomore Matt Weibring (Plano, Texas), who has competed in each of the Jackets’ last four tournaments. He has an overall scoring average of 73.71 and is making his first appearance in the NCAAs.
The Yellow Jackets will begin play in the NCAA Championships at 12:27 p.m. on Wednesday from the 10th tee in threesomes with No. 2 seed Clemson and No. 3 seed Oklahoma State. On Thursday, Tech will begin play from the 1st tee at 7:30 a.m.
The Golf Channel will provide satellite feeds each day with the coordinates being as follows:
Wednesday – 6-6:45 p.m. – Galaxy 7, Transponder 8; Thursday -6-6:45 p.m. – T5, Transponder 7 Friday – 4-4:45 p.m. – Galaxy 7,Transponder 9; Saturday – 4-4:45 p.m. – T6, Transponder 11