Feb. 22, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
On the one hand, it should hardly come as a surprise that James White won the Puerto Rico Classic when he closed with a four-under par 68 Tuesday.
The Georgia Tech junior from Acworth and Harrison High loves the place.
He tied for sixth there as a freshman, and tied for 15th last season. All nine competitive rounds he’s played there have fetched scores of 71 or better, and an overhead view of the place tells part of the reason why: White likes to play a draw off the tee, and that makes his three-round score of 10-under 206 almost easy to understand.
“There are a lot of doglegs right-to-left on this golf course, which is a natural shot for me,” White said. “We feel like the hardest shots on this course are the tee shots, and if you can get those, you can play the course well. The tee shots here fit my eye very well.”
On the other hand, there were 74 other golfers in Puerto Rico Sunday through Monday, and, well, never mind that; maybe we’re getting to where it should never be a surprise when White wins.
He ran away with the United States Collegiate Championship last fall at the Golf Club of Georgia, firing a 204 that was seven strokes better than anybody else. That field was stacked.
With two wins in his past three tournaments, and four straight top 10 finishes, this guy is making almost all the right reads. His touch on the greens has been sweet. And he’s knocking the ball square on the pegs much more often than not.
White is channeling Ty Webb. To paraphrase the sage golf hack once played beautifully by Chevy Chase, he is be, be, being the ball.
White caught and passed Alabama’s Bud Cauley Tuesday at the Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, P.R., when his 68 was two strokes better. Cauley-White were 1-2 heading into the final round, and they finished in reverse order as White’s 206 was a stroke ahead of Cauley’s 207.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide got the last laugh in the team competition, as Alabama won the overall title 835-841 ahead of No. 5 Tech, which was well clear of everybody else, including third-place Oklahoma State (847) and fourth-place Georgia (858).
Tech’s Kyle Scott fired a 69 Tuesday to finish third (208) just two shots back of White, and J.T. Griffin finished in a tie for eighth at 212. The Jackets, though, slipped a little late Tuesday as their round of 279 wasn’t enough to get it done.
Give Alabama credit; the Tide’s 274 Tuesday was the best team round of the tournament by four strokes, bettering the 278 Tech shot in the first round and that Georgia shot Tuesday. Had Alabama matched the 281s the Tide shot in each of the first two rounds, Tech would’ve won.
Alabama had golfers finish second, tied for fourth, tied for eighth, and tied for 11th.