April 1, 2006
ATLANTA – With a long break since forgettable performances in Las Vegas and Puerto Rico, Georgia Tech’s fourth-ranked golf team gets back on the course Monday at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate in Austin, Texas.
The event, which Tech won the last time it played in 2001, is a 54-hole affair at the 6,906 yard, par 72 Austin Country Club. It features nine of the nation’s top 25 teams, including No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Brigham Young, No. 8 Baylor and No. 10 Georgia State. The teams will play 36 holes Monday and 18 Tuesday.
“It’s an older golf course, and it’s not overly long, but it’s fairly difficult and you need to do everything well there to play well,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “You’ve got to hit it, chip it and putt it. This is a little bit of everything. Anybody can play well of their game is on. It’s a good field, and we just need to get back to playing better.”
Live scoring of the tournament is being provided by Golfstat.com.
The Yellow Jackets haven’t been completely idle since their last event (Feb. 26-28), playing five of the nation’s top courses in five days on a spring break trip to California. On the itinerary were 18 holes each at Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, and a dual match against the University of the Pacific at Pasatiempo Golf Club which Tech won, 7-1.
Tech played four rounds of qualifying for the right to travel to Texas, two before spring break and two this week, hoping to get back to the level on which the Jackets posted six top-three finishes and two victories through the UH-Hilo Intercollegiate in early February. But Tech stumbled to a 15th-place finish in Puerto Rico and a ninth-place showing in Las Vegas.
“At the beginning of the year, there were some opinions that we would probably be inconsistent and we weren’t,” said Heppler. But we we’ve become a little inconsistent. Two of the three days in Las Vegas were very good, we were right on the lead. Then we didn’t play well the last day. But we are playing freshmen, and sometimes that happens. They were group efforts.”
The Jackets have played at least two freshmen in every event, including Cameron Tringale of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who has played in all eight tournaments this year, including the Hooters Match Play last November, and posted a 72.86 stroke average, seventh best in the ACC. He is joined for this event by Adam Cohan (Wayne, Pa.), playing in just his second stroke-play event. Cohan tied for 66th at the Isleworth-UCF Invitational in the fall (78.33 average), then went 3-0-1 in the Hooters Collegiate Match Play tournament.
The core group includes All-American Roberto Castro, a junior from Alpharetta, Ga., who is ranked eighth in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, has six top-20 finishes in seven tournaments and a 71.90 stroke average. Junior Kevin Larsen (Santa Barbara, Calif.) is ninth in the Sagarin ratings with five top-10 performances and a 71.95 stroke average.
Senior Mike Barbosa joins Tringale as the only Tech player to participate in all eight tournaments this year, has posted both of his top-20 finishes this spring and has a 74.10 stroke average.
“The time of year is coming with the conference championship ahead, and you don’t want to be struggling,” said Heppler. “Hopefully our best golf wasn’t in the first half of the year. They’ve worked hard, and they want to get back to winning ways.
“I’ve tried not to make a big deal out of those two events. Our preparation wasn’t bad for either of them. We’re playing four rounds for this tournament, the low three go and I’m picking two. With that and the rounds we played over spring break, we should be competitive going in.”
Following the Morris Williams event, Tech returns to Atlanta for the inaugural U.S. Collegiate Championship at The Golf Club of Georgia on Apr. 10-11.