The 2002 NCAA Mens Division One Championship was held at the fabled Scarlet course on the campus of Ohio State University. The top-ranked Yellow Jackets had won seven team titles during the 2001-02 season, but make no mistake about it, this is the one desperately wanted. And by all accounts, Bruce Hepplers team was the one to beat.
But this week was filled with weather delays and drama, with the latter winning out in the end - Mother Nature wreaked havoc the first three rounds, halting play at one time or another during the day.
Nonetheless, Georgia Tech either held or shared the lead thru 54 holes. After 18, it was upstart Illinois which shared the top spot. Half way home, Tech and ACC foe Clemson topped the leaderboard, three rounds in and one to go, the Yellow Jackets held a one-shot lead over Tulsa, two clear of Washington, and three ahead of Texas and Minnesota.
Minnesota? You mean the Golden Gophers? The team that just two months ago was told by their university that the golf program would be no longer? Yep - those Gophers, the team of upstarts who rallied to win the Big 10 Championships. The group who received a reprieve from their school for at least one more year of having a team. The bunch of fearless kids who were on a mission.
As the final round began, Tech lost hold of their lead early, as low and behold, Minnesota made a move on the biggest day of the year.
The Golden Gophers lead grew, as the Yellow Jackets found themselves in an unfamiliar position - out of first place.
As Minnesota continued on their unthinkable climb, one got the feeling that this event was meant to be theirs.
Clemson gave a valiant final-round charge and Tech tried to muster a comeback late, but in the end the team who was being discarded by a school president made the biggest statement of all.
As Minnesota interim head coach Brad James put it best, Let them try to get rid of the national champions!
There was some solace for Georgia Tech, as junior Troy Matteson captured individual medalist honors by one shot, after firing a final-round 67, 4-under-par.