Golfers Swing into Action at Carpet Capital Collegiate
Tringale has eyes set on 11th straight NCAA Championship appearance
Sept. 13, 2007
ATLANTA - Cameron Tringale will never be accused of not working hard at his golf game. The results speak for themselves - two-time second-team All-American, two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer, ACC champion as a freshman and runner-up by one stroke as a sophomore.
By the same token, the junior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., also can't be accused of letting golf dominate his life, either. After making the Academic All-ACC golf team last year, Tringale set off on a summer schedule that not only included reaching match play at the U.S. Amateur, but a three-week trip to eastern Europe.
"Backpacking the Swiss Alps for a week was definitely the most memorable and exciting thing this summer," said Tringale, who also likes spending his free time in the summer playing beach volleyball and bodyboarding. "All of the golf was good, but I'm so used to playing all the time, all the tournaments just run together in my head."
For the record, Tringale finished second by one shot in the Pacific Coast Amateur, tied for second at the Monroe Invitational, tied for 11th at the Porter Cup and tied for 27th at the Sunnehanna Amateur. Then he survived a 17-man playoff to reach match play at the U.S. Amateur at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, only to drop his first-round match.
Now he has set his sights on taking the mantle of being the Georgia Tech's top golfer into the 2007-08 campaign and helping the Yellow Jackets back to the NCAA Championship for the 11th consecutive year. Head coach Bruce Heppler has said goodbye to four-time All-American Roberto Castro and senior Kevin Larsen, leaving Tringale to lead the charge.
The two-time All-American heads to Rocky Face, Ga., near Dalton, this weekend for the Yellow Jackets' first fall event, the 19th Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm Golf Club., an event which Tech has won six times but not since 2001.
Joining him on the 6,906-yard, par-72 layout for the 12th-ranked Jackets will be sophomore Chesson Hadley of Raleigh, N.C., juniors Taylor Hall of LaGrange, Ga., and David Dragoo of Scottsdale, Ariz., and red-shirt freshman Paul Haley of Dallas, Texas.
Heppler, beginning his 13th year at the helm, takes his team against defending champion and third-ranked Alabama, No. 21 Auburn, Augusta State, Chattanooga, No. 7 Clemson, No. 9 Duke, No. 14 East Tennessee State, No. 6 Florida, No. 4 Georgia, No. 28 Georgia State, NC State, No. 19 South Carolina, No. 23 Tennessee, No. 22 Texas Tech, TCU, Vanderbilt and No. 11 Wake Forest.
The tournament is a 54-hole event, 18 holes each day beginning Friday.
"We probably have as much uncertainty here as there has been since my second year," said Heppler, who lost a four-time All-American, Roberto Castro, and a two-time All-American, Kevin Larsen, to graduation. "Cameron has been a real big part of winning two ACC tournaments and winning when it matters. Chesson's last three finishes were tremendous, those were pretty strong performances.
"The development of Chesson last spring solidified things a little bit more. If you've got two guys who can win, then you've got a chance, and that's a good place to start every time you play a tournament."
Tringale paced the Jackets last year in stroke average (71.45 overall, 70.87 in the spring) and finished in the top 10 five times, including a tie for 14th at the NCAA East Regional and a tie for ninth at the NCAA Championship, just one spot shy of his tie for eighth as a freshman. He has a 71.81 career stroke average.
With no seniors on this year's team, Tringale suddenly finds himself in the leadership role, but the responsibility is nothing he hasn't prepared himself for.
"I've had more playing experience than any of the guys despite being a year younger than three of them," said Tringale. "My perspective is to just do what I know will help our guys get better and be ready to go win a national championship in June."
Hadley emerged from the Yellow Jackets' freshman class with a strong spring last year and is expected to be in the field on a regular basis. The Raleigh, N.C., native didn't play in the fall last year, but tied for 18th in his spring debut in Hawaii. He finished in the top 10 in all three post-season events, beginning with a tie for ninth at the ACC Championship, continuing with a seventh-place showing in the NCAA East Regional and finishing with a tie for fourth at the NCAA Championship.
Aside from Tringale, Hall has the most experience in the group, having played nine events last year and nine as a freshman, posting a pair of top-10 finishes and 74.75 stroke average. Dragoo, with a 76.67 stroke average in four collegiate events, has seen limited time but may be primed for more regular duty this fall after a successful showing in the Jackets' 90-hole qualifying tournament. Haley, the 2006 Texas State Amateur champion, was ranked as high as No. 5 among junior golfers before coming to Tech.
"It's a great opportunity," said Heppler. "There are a lot of people out there who are pretty skeptical about where we are as a program. I think it's a great opportunity for these five guys who have been pushed by the other four to go up there and let them know that we haven't quite closed the door here yet."
"I think this team can be really, really good," said Tringale. "We have extremely talented players on this team who haven't even brushed the surface. I think that's a little bit of what we saw last year with Chesson. Once they get a little confidence and become comfortable out there playing, our team will be able to compete with anyone out there."
Heppler's team will play four other tournaments this year within the Georgia state lines, including the Brickyard Invitational Oct. 7-9 in Macon and the Callaway Golf Match Play Championship Oct. 28-30 at Lake Oconee. Tech also hosts the third annual United States Collegiate Championship at its home course, the Golf Club of Georgia, March 24-26, and is entered in the Augusta State Invitational Apr. 4-6.