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Tech Golfers Open Fall Season at Golfweek Preview Classic

Sept. 25, 2004

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s golf team, which finished fifth at the NCAA Championship last spring and has its top six players returning, opens its 2004 fall schedule Sunday at the Ping/Golfweek Preview in Owings Mills, Md.

Florida, No. 1 in the pre-season Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, and defending national champion California head the 15-team field for the 16th annual event, which is being played at Caves Valley Golf Club, site of the 2005 NCAA Championship. The 54-hole event includes 36 holes on Sunday, Sept. 26, and 18 holes on Monday, Sept. 27.

Also in the field are Clemson, UCLA, Georgia, Arizona State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU and UNLV. UCLA is the defending champion, having won the title by one shot over the Yellow Jackets in last year’s rain-shortened event at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.

Live scoring for this event will be available on Golfstat.com.

Tech was supposed to begin its season last weekend with the 16th annual Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga., but bad weather from Hurricane Ivan forced postponement of the event until Nov. 5-7.

Bruce Heppler, beginning his 10th season as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, will send out the same five players who survived the team qualifying tournament for the Carpet Capital – seniors Nicholas Thompson and Chan Song, juniors Mike Barbosa and Thomas Jordan, and sophomore Roberto Castro.

He is as anxious to begin the season as are his players.

“They’re all excited about the year, and they’ve set some high goals for themselves and the team,” said Heppler, whose teams have finished in the top five at the NCAA Championship four of the last five years. Tech is ranked No. 2 by Golf World magazine and No. 7 by Golfweek.

“I realize the national magazines don’t think a lot of our guys individually. But they think a lot of the team, and that’s what we try and focus on. They’re just anxious to get going. Physically, they’re talented enough. The weight room is as good as it’s ever been. The practices have been very good.”

Thompson and Barbosa, each of whom enjoyed an excellent summer of golf, finished one-two in the team qualifying tournament.

Thompson, an All-Atlantic Coast Conference senior from Coral Springs, Fla., is also the nation’s No. 8-ranked amateur according to the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. He tied for 17th at the NCAA Championship last spring, leading the team in stroke average at 71.17, and later advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur. He tied for 12th at last year’s Preview and recorded five top-10 finishes during the season. Golfweek named him a second-team pre-season All-American.

Barbosa, a junior from St. Petersburg, Fla., is ranked 46th among the nation’s amateurs according to the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. Demonstrating remarkable improvement last spring, Barbosa recorded five top-20 finishes, tied for 36th at the NCAA Championship and posted a spring stroke average of 72.14. He went on to win the Cardinal Amateur in August.

Song, a senior from Orlando, Fla., and Castro, a sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., both made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team last spring, while Castro also was named ACC Rookie of the Year.

Song, who posted a 72.56 spring average and had five top-20 finishes, played a light summer schedule but did win his U.S. Amateur qualifying event. He spent most of his summer caddying for his sisters Aree and Naree.

Castro, who made the U.S. Amateur field for match play but lost his first-round match to his teammate Nicholas Thompson, is a third-team pre-season All-American. He posted the team’s second best stroke average for the year at 71.86 and finished in the top 10 four times.

Jordan, a junior from Sea Island, Ga., tied for third at last year’s Preview (71-69 – 140), but struggled to perform well in his other five events, posting a 75.06 stroke average. He is the only change from the Tech lineup that played the final six events last spg, replacing Kevin Larsen, a sophomore who enjoyed an excellent fall last year but struggled in the spring.

Following the Preview event, Tech has on its schedule the Jerry Pate National Collegiate in Birmingham, Ala. (Oct. 11-12), the Isleworth Invitational in Orlando, Fla. (Oct. 25-26), the rescheduled Carpet Capital Collegiate and the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. (Nov. 14-16).

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