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Tech Maintains Lead After 36 Holes at NCAA Golf

June 1, 2011

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Stillwater, Okla. – Georgia Tech’s golf team maintained its lead despite struggling on its second nine Wednesday, getting a pair of even-par 72s from Paul Haley and John-Tyler Griffin and posting a 2-over 290 team score in the second round of the NCAA Golf Championship.

The 4th-seeded Yellow Jackets, who started the day with a 3-shot lead over UCLA, saw the margin trimmed to one stroke, while first-round leader James White and freshman Richard Werenski each posted a 1-over 73.

Tech has a 36-hole total of 3-under 573, and the Bruins are at 2-under 574 after posting an even-par 288 Wednesday. Illinois posted the morning’s best round with a 1-under 287, moving into third place in the clubhouse at 2-over 578. Georgia shot even-par Wednesday and moved into fourth place at 3-over 579. The rest of the top 10 teams in the clubhouse at mid-afternoon were Alabama (+4), host and top-seeded Oklahoma State (+9), defending champion Augusta State (+12), Texas A&M and Ohio State (each at +14) and Southern California (+16).

The top eight finishers after 54 holes advance to the match play championship, which begins Friday. Tech finished third last year at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., to advance, where it lost to eventual champion Augusta State in the quarterfinals.

The Yellow Jackets built their score to 8-under-par and their lead to six strokes midway through Wednesday’s round, but White watched his driver go astray a couple of times on the second nine, posting a pair of double bogeys, and Griffin double bogeyed the final hole.

Despite all that, head coach Bruce Heppler’s team still has the lead with 18 holes to play in the stroke-play portion of the championship.

“We made some birdies early today, and then we played this stretch again with a couple birdies at 18 like we closed with yesterday,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “Then we turned and made a couple at 1 and had it going. But we made some mistakes coming in here, and it’s hard when the wind starts blowing.

“But I’m happy. It’s a good round. When your fifth score is 2-over, that really helps. Yesterday we threw out a 4-over (Werenski), and today was a really big round for him. He was 2-over out of the gate and played the rest in 1-under, so that bodes well for a freshman.”

White’s difficulties on the second nine cost him the individual lead, but it took a second-round 65 from LSU’s John Peterson to pass him. Peterson finished 36 holes at 5-under 139, while the Tech junior from Acworth, Ga., is a stroke back at 4-under 140. UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay (69 Wednesday) is tied for third place at 3-under 141 with Georgia’s Harris English (71) and Illinois’ Luke Guthrie (69).

“The first pitch out was on 2, and I made double there, and the next pitch out was on 4, and I got up and down from 70 yards for a par,” said White. “Then I lost the ball left on 6 and I made double there. Then I lost a ball on 8 and got up and down from 177 yards. I don’t know what it was. It might be a little fatigue, I’m completely exhausted right now. If I get the chance, I’ll work on it a little bit this afternoon.”

Haley moved into a tie for 11th place at 1-under 143, while Griffin is tied for 21st at 1-over 145 and Kyle Scott, whose 74 did not count for the Jackets Wednesday, is tied for 28th at 146.

The top finisher after 54 holes will be the NCAA individual champion. White and Haley, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, have each won twice this year, and are competing to become Tech’s first NCAA Champion since Troy Matteson in 2002.

Tech will begin its third round at 2:10 p.m. Eastern time Thursday.

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