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Tech Paired With Florida, Tennessee in NCAA East Regional Golf

May 15, 2002

ROSWELL, Ga. – Directions/Pairings

Georgia Tech top-ranked men’s golf team opens play at 11:15 a.m. Thursday in the NCAA East Regional golf tournament, paired with No. 4 Florida and No. 10 Tennessee, at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek in Roswell, Ga.

The Atlantic Coast Conference champion Yellow Jackets are playing in their fifth-straight East Regional, but are hosting the event for the first time, welcoming 27 of the nation’s top teams. Settindown Creek, formerly host to two Nike Tour Championship events, will play to a par of 72 and 7,119 yards for the East Regional. The top 10 teams and the top two individuals not on those teams will advance to the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio on May 29-June 1.

The East Regional will get under way on Thursday, May 16 and conclude on Saturday, with play beginning at 7:12 a.m. each day. Live scoring of the event will be available via Ramblinwreck.com and Golfstatlive.com.

Admission to the tournament is free, and directions to the course can be found on Ramblinwreck.com by clicking on the NCAA East Regional logo.

Tech, Florida and Tennessee also will play together Friday beginning at 7:12 a.m. Saturday’s tee times will be based on 36-hole standings, with the leaders teeing off first.

Joining the Yellow Jackets in the field will be seven other teams ranked among the nation’s top-20 and six from the top 10 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Included in that group will be Clemson (No. 2), Wake Forest (No. 3), Florida (No. 4), Tennessee (No. 8), Auburn (No. 10), Georgia (No. 12), and Augusta State (No. 16). The remainder of the field features seven other teams ranked among the current top 50, in UAB (No. 30), College of Charleston (No. 34), Duke (No. 40), North Florida (No. 41), North Carolina (No. 42), South Carolina (No. 43), and Jacksonville State (No. 49). The remaining 12 teams in the field consist of Virginia, Michigan State, Coastal Carolina, Furman, Georgia Southern, Virginia Commonwealth, Penn State, South Alabama, William & Mary, Yale, Rhode Island, and Iona.

Six individuals were also selected to take part in the event, as Southeast Louisiana’s Andy Smith, Vanderbilt’s Brandt Snedeket, Southern Miss’ Tim Yelverton, Campbell’s Simon Dunn, UNC Wilmington’s Adam Gee and Charleston Southern’s David Riles will round out the 141 individuals in the tournament.

All 27 teams played a practice round on the course Wednesday under ideal weather conditions.

“It’s perfect,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler, the 2002 ACC Coach of the Year. “It’s a challenge, but the conditions are as good as you’ll find at Augusta National. I think everyone should be happy. The greens are perfect, the fairways are perfect, and I think the members took care of the weather for three days.”

Georgia Tech has appeared in 11 previous NCAA East Regional tournaments, winning the event on three occasions. The Jackets captured back-to-back team titles in the tourney in 1998 and 1999 with their first team crown coming in the 1991 season. Tech also boasts three individual regional champions, with Chan Reeves accomplishing the feat in 1991 and Jimmy Johnson winning the event a year later in 1992. Matt Kuchar was a winner in the tournament six years later, leading the Jackets to the team title with his victory in 1998.

The 2002 edition of the Tech golf team has turned in one of the most successful seasons in school history, winning a school record six team titles during the year and boasting three individual titles, all from junior Troy Matteson. The Jackets captured the school’s eighth Atlantic Coast Conference team title in their last outing on April 21, placing three players in the top 10 of the event. Matteson leads the team with a 71.30 stroke average, while all five of the Tech players in the regional field have stroke averages below 73.00 and are ranked among the nation’s top 33 individuals.

“The kids and myself have high expectations for our team,” said Heppler. “We’ve played a good schedule and been successful doing that. They’ve gotten accustomed to handling it.

“You just want to keep the momentum, going as best you can with your putting, your chipping and ball-striking. This week you want to play well, try to win the golf tournament, but keep momentum going your way.”

All five of Tech’s starters have stroke averages under 73. Three of them, including Matteson and seniors Kris Mikkelsen and Matt Weibring, made the all-Atlantic Coast Conference team, and freshman Chan Wongluekiet was named ACC Rookie of the Year.

Matteson, a junior from Austin, Texas who is ranked No. 7 nationally by Golfweek magazine, made the all-conference team for the second time. A winner of three tournaments this spring, Matteson leads Tech with a 71.30 stroke average and has six top-10 finishes in nine events.

Mikkelsen, a senior from Woodstock, Ga., and Weibring, a senior from Plano, Texas, were named to the team for the first time. Mikkelsen, the No. 17 player in the Golfweek rankings, ranks second on the team with a 72.00 stroke average and also has six top-10 finishes in nine tournaments, Weibring, third in stroke average at 72.30, has placed in the top-10 four times, including a runner-up finish at the ACC Championship. He is ranked 21st nationally by Golfweek. Wongluekiet, from Bradenton, Fla., is Tech’s third Rookie of the Year honoree since 1997, joining Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder. The freshman has three top-10 finishes, including a tie for fifth at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, and ranks fourth on the Tech team in stroke average at 72.59. He is ranked 28th nationally by Golfweek.

The fifth member of the Tech team is freshman Nick Thompson from Coral Springs, Fla. Thomson, ranked 33rd in the nation, has a stroke average of 72.75 and three top-10 finishes in eight tournaments.

Other top individuals on hand include defending East Regional champion Camilo Villegas of Florida, the nation’s top ranked player, No. 3 D.J. Trahan of Clemson, No. 5 Bill Haas of Wake Forest, No. 6 Ryan Hybl of Georgia and No. 9 Oliver Wilson of Augusta State.

Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek is no stranger to championship golf competition, having hosted both the 1995 and 1996 Nike Tour Championships along with serving as one of 12 sectional qualifying sites for the 2002 U.S. Open.

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