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Tech Winds Up Second to UCLA in NCAA Stroke Play

June 2, 2011


Stillwater, Okla. – John-Tyler Griffin led Georgia Tech with a 74 Thursday and Kyle Scott added a 75, but Georgia Tech posted a team total of 14-over-par 302 and slipped back to second place in the medal race after 54 holes at the NCAA Golf Championship. UCLA, which began the day one stroke behind the Yellow Jackets, shot 10-over 298 and captured medalist honors.

Thus, the Yellow Jackets earned the second seed for the match play portion of the championship and will face 7th seed Augusta State in the first round at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time Friday. A rematch of last year’s quarterfinals, when Tech was the third seed and Augusta State was sixth, the Jaguars defeated the Yellow Jackets, 3-2, and went on to win the NCAA Championship at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn.

The Bruins, who finished 54 holes at 8-over-par 872, were three strokes clear of Tech (11-over 875). Oklahoma State and Illinois finished tied for third at 15-over 879, with the host Cowboys winning the tiebreaker for the third seed. Georgia was fifth at 20-over 884, followed by Ohio State at 23-over 887, Augusta State at 24-over 888, and Duke at 25-over 889.

Those eight teams advanced to the match play championship. Texas A&M, the 2009 national champion, finished one stroke below the cutline.

“We came here hoping to get to play on Friday, and we are,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “So I’m happy about that. Augusta State has a very good team, and so do we, and so does everyone who is still in it. We’re excited to get going tomorrow.”

Friday’s quarterfinal schedule: No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 Duke, 11 a.m. ET, No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Georgia, 11:45 a.m., No. 2 Georgia Tech vs. No. 7 Augusta State, 12:30 p.m., and No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Ohio State at 1:15 p.m.

There was never a doubt that the Yellow Jackets would make match play Thursday, but who would handle the signature winds at the 7,416-yard Karsten Creek course, 15-20 miles per hour Thursday, that had been mostly absent the first two days. Tech, UCLA and Illinois were locked in a three-team battle for most of the round. The Illini eventually faltered, leaving the Yellow Jackets and Bruins in a back-and-forth contest that wasn’t decided until the 17th hole, when the Jackets’ James White made bogey and the Bruins’ Patrick Cantlay made birdie.

“We started well the first two days this week, but we didn’t today” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “You start there into the teeth of the wind at 1, 2, 3 and 4, and it was hard for us to get something going. I had hoped we would handle it a little better than we did. We fought back a little bit there at the end.

“It’s really all you want, every shot, every putt, every chip. I think the fact that we have a tee time for tomorrow should be a relief to our guys and get them excited about playing tomorrow.”

Illinois finished with another bogey at the par-5 18th, leaving the Illini in a tie with Oklahoma State, costing them the third seed.

White, who was a stroke off the individual lead at the beginning of Thursday’s round, shot a 76 and wound up in a tie for eighth place with California’s Michael Weaver at even-par 216. Paul Haley was Tech’s fourth counting score Thursday, a 77. Freshman Richard Werenski finished with an 82.

“We didn’t handle the conditions as well as we would have wanted today,” said White, “but we’ve been through it now and at least we know what we’re doing.”

Individually, Griffin finished tied for 17th at 3-over 219, Haley tied for 20th at 4-over 220, Scott tied for 29th at 5-over 221, and Werenski tied for 102nd at 15-over 231.

It seemed like a replay of its NCAA regional finish two weeks ago, a solid lead after the first round was trimmed in the second round, then vanished in the final round. Duke was the team that surpassed the Jackets on the last day at the regional, this time is was UCLA.

John Peterson of LSU, the 36-hole leader, finished with an even-par 72 Thursday and won medalist honors by one shot over Cantlay, who had an eagle putt to tie at the last hole that just missed. Peterson had a 54-hole total of 211 (5-under-par), and Cantlay finished at 4-under 212.

Karsten Creek Golf Course, Stillwater, Okla.
Quarterfinal Match Play Pairings (times Eastern)

#1 UCLA vs. #8 Duke, 11 a.m.
#4 Illinois vs. #5 Georgia, 11:45 a.m.
#2 Georgia Tech vs. #7 Augusta State, 12:30 p.m.
#3 Oklahoma State vs. #6 Ohio State, 1:15 p.m.


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