It was Friday the 13th, and a black cat strolled through the parking lot at the Waikoloa Beach Resort’s Kings Course before the final round of the TaylorMade/Waikoloa Intercollegiate.
It hardly mattered for the Georgia Tech golf team. Casting superstitions aside, the Yellow Jackets went about their business and stung the field with a final-round, 10-under-par 278, giving them their fourth victory in this event since Bruce Heppler began bringing his teams to the Aloha State eight years ago.
After three rounds in near perfect and virtually windless conditions, Georgia Tech, No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, came in with a 23-under-par 841 for a three-shot victory over No. 4 UCLA.
“You have to love this place and I do,” said Heppler, whose teams have finished in the top 5 seven of eight times on Hawaii’s Big Island. “This is a great way to start the spring season, but we have to realize there is still a long way to go. We have to keep working hard and keep improving.”
The Yellow Jackets, after opening with a 16-under 272 for a 10-shot advantage, stumbled in the second round with a 3-over 291 for a slim, two-stroke lead over UCLA and UC-Davis going into the final round. UC-Davis fell off the pace early, leaving Georgia Tech and UCLA to battle back and forth throughout the final round. Arkansas, thanks to a final-round 14-under 274, finished third at 19 under.
Individually, Oklahoma freshman Anthony Kim earned medalist honors after closing with a 5-under-par 67 for an 11-under 205. That was two strokes better than Arizona State senior Chez Reavie and Hawaii-Hilo junior Nick Mason, whose top 10 was a first for the host Vulcans.
“I didn’t have a very good fall (one top 20 in three starts), but I think a lot of that was just trying to balance my golf, school work and social life,” said Kim. “I worked hard in the offseason, and it feels good to know that the hard work is beginning to pay off.”