Paced by a trio of 69s from Chan Wongluekiet, Mike Barbosa and Kevin Larsen, Georgia Tech shot a 10-under-par 278 Friday and captured the championship of the Taylor Made-Waikoloa Intercollegiate in Waikoloa, Hawaii.
The Yellow Jackets won this event for the fourth time in seven trips to the Big Island, and have finished out of the top five only once in that span.
'You have to love this place and I do,' said Heppler after his team closed with a 10-under-par 278 for a 23-under 841 total and a three-shot victory over UCLA. '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 thing about this game is you can't play defense. Every time you go out you have to be on the offensive.'
Tech held off a second-round charge by UCLA and UC-Davis and kept both at bay on Friday while Oklahoma and Arkansas rallied from well back on the leaderboard. UCLA shot 279 to finish the tournament at 844, while Arkansas shot 274 to finish third at 845. Arizona State (279) finished fourth at 850, followed by Oklahoma (272-852), Washington (287-853), UC-Davis (292-857), Southern California (283-857) TCU (281-860), Pepperdine (283-862) and Stanford (285-863).
Individually, Oklahoma freshman Anthony Kim won medalist honors after closing with a 5-under 67 for an 11-under 205 total. That was two strokes better than Arizona State senior Chez Reavie, the 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, and Hawaii-Hilo junior Nick Mason.
Wongluekiet finished tied for fifth place, four shots behind Kim at 7-under-par 209. It was his first top-10 finish of the year in six events. Larsen and Nicholas Thompson, who shot 71 Friday, tied for 14th at 212, and Mike Barbosa tied for 18th at 213. Roberto Castro tied for 42nd after carding a 71 Friday for a tournament total of 217.
'I'm proud of the way our guys came back today,' Heppler said. 'The first day we took care of business and the second day we did not. There was a 19-shot difference and pretty much it all came from within 20 yards of the green. But they went out today and kept their focus for the whole round and really played well coming down the stretch.'
FINAL TEAM SCORES
Georgia Tech272-291-278 -- 841
UCLA282-283-279 -- 844
Arkansas293-278-274 -- 845
Arizona State283-288-279 -- 850
Oklahoma296-284-272 -- 852
Washington283-283-287 -- 853
UC-Davis284-281-292 -- 857
Southern California 286-288-283 -- 857
TCU285-294-281 -- 860
Pepperdine295-284-283 -- 862
Stanford284-294-285 -- 863
Nagoya (Japan)293-286-286 -- 865
Texas Tech296-285-287 -- 868
Nevada-Reno295-287-290 -- 872
Hawai'i-Hilo289-291-295 -- 875
Oregon294-289-293 -- 876
Tulsa293-296-287 -- 876
Rhode Island294-293-293 -- 880
Hawai'i-Menoa206-298-283 -- 887
Oregon State298-297-299 -- 894
Houston303-301-290 -- 894