March 18, 2011
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s 4th-ranked golf team returns to action Sunday in the 2011 Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, an annual collegiate golf event conducted by the Golf Coaches Association of America. This year’s event will be staged at Hawks Ridge Golf Club, March 20-22, in Ball Ground, Ga.
Tech, the host institution, will be joined in the 16-team field for the Callaway Match Play Championship by 3rd-ranked Alabama, Baylor (57), Duke (20), East Tennessee State (88), Georgia (14), Illinois (7), Iowa (10), Pacific (61), South Carolina, Southern California (26), Texas (12), Texas A&M (11), Texas Tech (16), UCLA (1) and Washington State (76). Georgia and UCLA are past winners of the event while 2010 runner-up Southern California leads a contingent of five teams (Iowa, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA) returning from last year’s tournament.
Head coach Bruce Heppler’s team has drawn the third seed in the bracket and will face Washington State in the first round of matches, which will begin with an 8 a.m. shotgun start Sunday. Round two of the championship and consolation brackets also will be played Sunday. Semifinals matches will occur Monday, and the finals in both the championship and consolation brackets will be played Tuesday.
The event is comprised of four rounds of match play between teams, similar to the Final Eight of the NCAA Championship. Each team match includes individual matches between each of the five players, and the winner of each individual match scores a point for his team.
Head coach Bruce Heppler’s team has participated in the event five times previously, reaching the finals four times and the semifinals once. Most recently, the Yellow Jackets fell to UCLA in the 2008 finals at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.
“It brings in a lot of emotion into the event. It’s team on team, guy on guy,” said Heppler. “It gets the juices flowing. In stroke-play events, you wallow around for three days, and at the end it’s `Hey, you won.’ In match play, there’s your guy standing in front of you, and it’s “OK, we’re playing Texas today.'” It’s great for our guys, and they’re excited to do that. There’s winning and losing every hole, and that changes the dynamic completely.”
TECH UPDATE: The Yellow Jackets are coming off a disappointing ninth-place finish at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters last weekend in Las Vegas, dropping four spots in the final round. Junior James White shot 74-74-68 and tied for fifth place, his fifth consecutive top-10 finish since the middle of the fall.
White, a junior from Acworth, Ga., is ranked 8th in the nation in this week’s Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, while senior John-Tyler Griffin is No. 14 and senior Kyle Scott is No. 21. Griffin has five top-10 finishes in eight events this year, wile Scott has three. Senior Paul Haley and freshman Richard Werenski will fill out the Tech lineup.
TOURNAMENT UPDATE: First-round matches will begin on a shotgun start at 8;30 a.m. Sunday, followed by second-round matches at 2 p.m. Third-round matches begin at 10 a.m. Monday, and final-round matches at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Third-seeded Tech will battle No. 14 Washington State, and No. 6 Iowa is paired against Southern California, with the winners of those two matches advancing to face each other in the second round. Alabama is seeded second and will square off against East Tennessee State. The winner will face the victor of the seven vs. 10 match between Texas and Duke. UCLA has the No. 1 seed at the event, and will face South Carolina in the opening round and play the winner of the eighth-seeded Georgia-Texas Tech match. Illinois grabbed the fourth seed and will be pitted against Baylor. Fifth-seeded Texas A&M versus Pacific completes the top half of the bracket.