Jackets Make up 5 Strokes at NCAA Tucson Regional
Tech tied for seventh, five strokes away from fifth place
Marana, Ariz. - Led by Jacob Joiner's 2-under-par 70, three Georgia Tech players posted par or subpar scores Tuesday to help the Yellow Jackets to an even-par score of 288 and move within five shots of fifth place after 36 holes the NCAA Tucson Regional at the Gallery Golf Club.
TECH LINEUP -- Tech began the day 11 strokes out of fifth place (top five finishers after 54 holes advance to the NCAA Championship) and trimmed that deficit in half, thanks to Joiner's 70, a 71 from Vincent Whaley and a 72 from James Clark. Those three players recorded 11 birdies and an eagle between them, with only one double bogey or worse over the 7,258-yard, par 72 Gallery Golf Club.
Joiner birdied five holes with three bogeys, while Whaley had three birdies and two bogeys on his card. Clark played bogey-free golf with three birdies on his second nine holes.
Tech made up three shots on its finishing hole, the 609-yard, par-5 ninth, as Whaley, Clark and Chris Petefish all birdied. Petefish, who shot 70 on Monday, added a 75 Tuesday. Michael Hines did not count after posting a 77.
TEAM LEADERBOARD -- Tech's even-par 288 team total Tuesday was bettered by only three teams, and the 48th-ranked Yellow Jackets stand in a tie for seventh place with UC Riverside at 585 (+9). The Jackets are paired with Riverside and North Texas for Wednesday's final round and will tee off the 10th hole at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Top-ranked Stanford, which shot 284 (-4) and built its lead to 14 strokes. The Cardinal have a 36-hole total of 558 (-18), well clear of No. 24 Oregon, which shot 287 (-1) and stand at 572 (-4) for the regional. No. 37 UAB (574, -2) dropped one position to third place, while No. 34 North Florida had the day's best score of 283 and moved up four spots to fourth place at 576 (E).
No. 13 California held onto fifth place at 580 (+4), while No. 12 Wake Forest slipped two spots to sixth place, one behind the Bears at 581 (+5). North Texas and Georgia State are tied for ninth, but are 12 shots behind Tech.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD -- Stanford's Franklin Huang added a 69 Tuesday to his opening 67 and grabbed the individual lead at 136 (-8), one stroke clear of UAB's Lee Hodges and Oregon's Thomas Lim, both at 137 (-7). The Cardinal's Maverick McNealy is alone in fourth place at 139 (-5), while first round leader Matt Lutz of UC Riverside, Cal's K.K. Limbhasut and Stanford's David Boote are tied for fifth at 141 (-4). Five other players are under par for 36 holes.
Petefish remained the low Yellow Jacket but slipped to a tie for 17th after 36 holes at 145 (+1). Whaley and Clark are tied for 24th at 146 (+2), while Joiner is tied for 34th at 148 (+4).
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS -- "Our guys fought really hard today to get is within striking distance. The last four holes were played into a hard wind, and they played them extremely well and made some nice putts."
REGIONAL INFORMATION -- The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 19th straight year and for the 26th time in the 28 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship. They are part of a regional field that includes 14 teams and five individuals. The venue is the Gallery Golf Club, which measures 7,258 yards and plays to a par of 72.
The Tucson Regional includes eight teams listed among the nation's top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including (in order of seed) national No. 1-ranked Stanford, the Pac-12 champion and an automatic qualifier, No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 13 California, No. 24 Oregon, No. 25 North Carolina, No. 36 North Florida, No. 37 Alabama-Birmingham, No. 48 Georgia Tech, Saint Mary's (Calif.), the West Coast Conference champion, Georgia State, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, the Conference USA champion, UC Riverside, the Big West champion, and Siena, the MAAC champion.
The top five finishers at each of the six regional sites, all of which take place this week, will advance to the NCAA Championship, which will be contested May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
TECH NCAA REGIONAL HISTORY -- Georgia Tech has advanced through an NCAA regional 23 times in 25 tries, and all but once since the NCAA went to a six-regional qualifying format in 2009. Head coach Bruce Heppler's teams have won five regional tournaments outright, most recently in 2014, and tied for one other.
The NCAA began using regional qualifying tournaments in 1989, first with the 81 teams split among three sites (27 teams each), then with six sites with either 13 or 14 teams each beginning in 2009. Since the NCAA went to six regional sites in 2009, Tech has finished third (Bowling Green, Ky.), third (Milton, Ga.), tied for third (Radford, Va.), sixth/did not advance (Norman, Okla.), fourth (Tallahassee, Fla.), first (Raleigh, N.C.) and third (San Diego).