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Georgia Tech leads NCAA golf championships

STILLWATER, Okla. – James White shot 5-under 67 on Tuesday to powerGeorgia Tech to a three-stroke lead after the first round of the NCAA men’s golfchampionships.

The No. 4-ranked Yellow Jackets shot 5-under 283 at Karsten Creek GolfClub. Second-ranked UCLA was next, followed by No. 3 Alabama in third with aneven-par 288.

Oklahoma State, which has been ranked No. 1 all season and is playing on itshome course, is eighth, nine strokes off the lead. Defending champion AugustaState sits in ninth.

White birdied five of the first nine holes, including a 35-foot putt on thepar-4 No. 5. He also made birdie putts on Nos. 14, 16 and 18. The junior leadsTexas A&M’s Cameron Peck by one, and Patrick Reed of Augusta State in Georgiaand J.J. Spaun of San Diego State are two strokes back at 69.

Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler almost pulled his team off the coursebecause of windy conditions during Monday’s practice round. Following the strongfirst day, he was sure glad he left his players alone.

“Oklahoma State quit after 9, and I thought about it,” Heppler said. “Ithought by playing yesterday, we played as hard as (the course) was ever goingto play, and we played really well. I thought playing when it was really hardwas a good thing because they knew could still hit good shots.”

Tuesday’s first round was played with virtually no wind and in nearlyperfect conditions, which led to 20 sub-par rounds on the par-72, 7,416-yardlayout.

“I hit a lot of fairways and that made it easier,” said White, who won twotournaments during the 2010-11 season and tied for second at the NCAA EastRegional two weeks ago. “It’s a tough golf course. I mean, I was sweating overevery shot. I just knew that I was one shot away from a double bogey at alltimes.

“I just hope I didn’t use up all my birdies today. We have a long ways togo.”

The top eight teams in the 30-team field advance to match play after 54holes, beginning Friday. The team championship will be decided Sunday.

The individual champion will be determined after Thursday’s round.