Oct. 23, 2011
Alpharetta, Ga. – James White fired a 3-under-par 69, while 12th-ranked Georgia Tech turned in a 4-under-par 284 team total Sunday and lurks two strokes back of the lead after the first round of the sixth annual United States Collegiate Championship.
White, a first-team All-American and defending champion of this event, eagled the first hole and remained steady over the 7,017-yard Lakeside Course at the Golf Club of Georgia. The senior from Acworth, Ga., is three shots behind Southern California’s Steve Lim, who shot a 6-under 66 with seven birdies and a bogey.
“There are places you just like going,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler of White, who has played his last four rounds on the course 15 strokes under par, including his 12-under winning total of 204 last fall. “He’s played a lot of golf here, played a lot of good qualifying rounds. He just stands on the first tee and has a good feeling.”
“I thought this might be the hardest round of this tournament for this particular group, given the expectations we set last year,” said Heppler, whose team won this event last fall by 27 strokes over UCLA. “But they handled it really well and got off to a good start. We had just one bad hole out of our five players.
Lim lifted the Trojans, the 2008 USCC champion, into a tie with 4th-ranked Auburn at 6-under-par 282, one stroke ahead of No. 27 Duke, which posted a 5-under 283 total Sunday. Tech is in fourth place, followed by No. 7 Florida State (287), No. 6 Washington and No. 24 UCLA (288 each). Nine of the 14 teams competing here are ranked among the nation’s top 30 teams.
Five teams are below par after the first round, while 19 of the 75 players are in red numbers.
“They ramped some stuff up here today,” said Heppler. “It’s a tremendous setup here, the greens, the whole experience, the layout of the course, the pine trees. They won’t let us call is the Collegiate Masters, but it’s as close to playing in the Masters as you can play in college. That’s how good it is. You’ve got to pay attention all the way around. It’s a great test. It’s championship golf.”
Duke’s Julian Suri and Auburn’s Dominic Bozzelli each shot 67 and are tied for second place individually, while Iowa’s Steven Ihm carded a 68. White is tied with three others, including UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay, for fifth place.
The first groups tee off at 9 a.m. for Monday’s second round, with the finishing round set to begin at the same time Tuesday.