ATLANTA (May 17) – Georgia Tech’s top-ranked golf team, which has won three tournaments this spring and finished a close second in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, will defend its 1999 NCAA East Regional championship as the top seed in the 2000 event, which will be held May 18-20 at Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pa.
Tech has been the nation’s No. 1-rated team in the Mastercard rankings for 11 consecutive weeks, led by all-Americas Matt Kuchar (Lake Mary, Fla.) and 2000 ACC Player of the Year Bryce Molder (Conway, Ark.), who currently rank No. 2-3 in the Mastercard individual rankings.
A total of 81 teams are in the three regional fields, 27 in each, with a total of 30 teams advancing to the NCAA Championship, May 31-June 3 in Opelika, Ala. Eleven teams will advance to the championship from the East Regional, nine teams will advance from the Central Regional, which is being held in Victoria, Texas, and 10 teams will come from the West Regional, which is in Madera, Calif.
The Yellow Jackets have won the East Regional each of the past two years, last year in Providence, R.I., and in 1998 at Daufuskie Island, S.C. Last year, Kuchar finished second and Molder tied for third individually. In 1998, they were the top two finishers.
“Until last year, I would have felt comfortable thinking all we had to do was finish in the top 11 to advance,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “But Clemson went from second place after one round to having to win a three-way playoff to go. They were No. 2 or 3 in the nation. The competition is so good, and there are good teams and players in this event that we haven’t seen. So our focus the last two years has been to go there and win, and not just qualify.”
Kuchar, the 1998 Haskins Award winner and a four-time all-ACC honoree, leads the Jackets and the ACC in stroke average at 70.33. The senior has finished in the top 10 eight times in nine events this year, including sharing medalist honors with Molder at the Waikoloa Intercollegiate. Molder, who won the ACC championship this year and made the all-ACC team, has a 70.41 stroke average and has seven top-10 finishes in 10 events.
The rest of the Tech traveling squad includes freshman Troy Matteson (Austin, Texas), who has a 72.54 average and three straight top-20 finishes; senior Carlton Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), who has 73.39 average and three top-20 finishes in eight events; and sophomore Matt Weibring (Plano, Texas), who has a 73.33 average and two top-20 finishes in six events.
Of the nation’s top 50 teams in the latest Mastercard rankings, 18 are in the East Regional, including No. 2 Clemson, No. 4 Georgia, No. 11 Augusta State, No. 13 Florida, No. 15 N.C. State, No. 16 North Florida, No. 17 Auburn, No. 23 South Carolina, No. 26 Duke, No. 27 Virginia, No. 33 Alabama-Birmingham, No. 35 Mississippi State, No. 36 Wake Forest, No. 40 North Carolina, No. 42 Tennessee, No. 44 East Tennessee State and No. 48 Middle Tennessee State.
“As the two-time defending champion, our goal is to go and try to win the tournament,” said Heppler. “To continue to have momentum, play well and have confidence. It’s all anybody wants to get through any of the three regionals. Nobody has a free pass.”
Seven of the nine teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference – all but Maryland and Florida State – are in the East field. Also receiving bids to the East regional are Georgia State, Rhode Island, Yale, Dartmouth, Penn State, James Madison, Richmond, Seton Hall and Virginia Commonwealth.
NOTE: To hear extended comments from Tech head coach Bruce Heppler, please call 404-894-5507 and dial 16.