April 20, 2008
New London, N.C. – Showing ability to shoot low it hadn’t shown all year, Georgia Tech erased nearly all of its 15-shot deficit Sunday before a rain delay killed its momentum and left the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets in fourth place at the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship.
Tech was challenging the ACC Championship one-day scoring record (21-under-par 267 by the Yellow Jackets in 2006) when thunderstorms popped up and forced the golfers off the Old North State Club course at 12:57 p.m. At the time, Tech was 18-under-par for its round through 11 holes, 22-under for the tournament, and had closed to within three shots of Duke, which had completed three only holes.
But when play resumed after a delay of two hours and 18 minutes, the Jackets gave back five shots to par and finished with a 13-under-par 275. It tied for the fourth-best single-round score Tech has shot in the tournament, but fell well short of what head coach Bruce Heppler’s team needed to overtake Duke and Florida State, the top two teams after 36 holes.
“We benefitted from a delay two years ago when Clemson was going crazy, and the second round was washed out, then we came out and went crazy the next day,” said Heppler, whose team won the title in 2006 and 2007. “That’s the nature of the game. We got ourselves back in the tournament and got some rounds from some younger guys today.
“(After the delay), the wind started blowing pretty hard on 15 and 16, 17 played pretty hard, and we gave back about five shots. We needed to make some birdies at 18, but didn’t make one. If we had been able to play those holes in even par or 1-under, we could have out some heat on them.”
Tech completed 54 holes at 17-under-par 847, its fourth-lowest tournament total in 11 tournaments on the 7,100-yard, par 72 layout. In the end, however, the Jackets finished nearly as far behind as it began the day. Florida State staged a rally of its own after the delay to shoot 12-under-par and win its first conference title going away.
When the siren sounded suspending play, David Dragoo was 6-under through 13 holes, Cameron Tringale was 5-under through 12, Taylor Hall was 5-under through 11, J.T. Griffin was 2-under through 13, and Chesson Hadley was 2-under through 11.
“We hadn’t really shown the ability to shoot a low round this year,” added Heppler. “To get it to 18-under was really positive for us.”
Each Tech player gave back at least one shot after play resumed. Dragoo, a junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., paced the Jackets Sunday with a 5-under-par 67, and completed 54 holes in 4-under-par 212 in his first ACC Championship. Taylor Hall, a junior from LaGrange, Ga., continued his solid play with a 4-under 68, posted a tournament total of 7-under-par 209 and earned his second top-10 finish in three ACC Championships.
Tech’s two All-Americans, Cameron Tringale and Chesson Hadley, played solidly all weekend but were upstaged by the Jackets third and fourth players. Tringale closed well with a 69 Sunday and finished at 4-under 212. Hadley, from nearby Raleigh, N.C., carded a 71 for a 54-hole total of 214 (2-under-par). Freshman J.T. Griffin, from Wilson, N.C., shot a 71 Sunday and finished at 8-over-par 224.
Tech now waits until May 4, when the NCAA will announce the fields for its three regional qualifying tournaments. The three regionals will be held in Chattanooga, Tenn. (East), Columbus, Ohio (Central) and Bremerton, Wash. (West) on the weekend of May 15-17. The top 10 teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 28-31, in West Lafayette, Ind.