March 18, 2017
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team makes a quick turnaround from its last event, returning to action for its fourth spring event in the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, which begins Sunday at The Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its third appearance in the Valspar Invitational, which began two years ago and has become one of the spring’s premier events at one of Florida’s top golf venues. The 54-hole event begins Sunday with an 18-hole round beginning at 12:15 p.m. (shotgun start). Split-tee starts will be utilized Monday (8 a.m.) and Tuesday (7 a.m.). It is played at the 7,114-yard, par 71 Floridian National Golf Club, part of The Floridian Resort and Spa.
Nine of the 13 teams competing at the 2017 Valspar Collegiate Invitational are ranked among the top 50 in the latest Golfstat national rankings with five listed among the top 25. The field includes No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 12 LSU, No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 18 Texas, No. 23 Arkansas, No. 27 Georgia Tech, No. 30 Florida State, No. 33 South Carolina, No. 49 Houston Memphis, Minnesota, North Texas and South Florida.
The Yellow Jackets finished 10th in last year’s Valspar event, posting a 21-over-par score of 871, after winning the inaugural event in 2014 (13-under-par 837). Ollie Schniederjans won medalist honors at the 2014 tournament.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech is ranked No. 27 in both the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 23 Golfweek/Sagarin Index after the first three spring events. The Yellow Jackets tied Florida State for second place in last week’s Seminole Intercollegiate, which followed a tie for seventh place in a 21-team field at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawai’i and a tie for third among 15 teams at the Puerto Rico Classic. Tech has a 62-29 won-loss record cumulatively this year against a scheduled rated the eighth-toughest in the country, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index (doesn’t include Cyrpess Point match play event in the fall). The Yellow Jackets posted high finishes of fifth place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and sixth in the Maui Invitational in the fall.
TECH LINEUP – Head coach Bruce Heppler will again go with a core of three freshmen in Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) in his starting five for the Seminole Intercollegiate, joining senior Vincent Whaley (McKinney, Texas) and junior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.).
Schniederjans challenged for his third win of the year at the Seminole last week, but settled for a solo third-place finish at 11-under-par 205, matching his best score of the year. Clark established the best finish of his career, a tie for eighth place at 8-under-par 208. Whaley posted a top-20 finish last week in his first action since the early fall, carding rounds of 71-71-70 for a 4-under-par 212.
Those three are each averaging under par for the year, Schniederjans leading the way at 70.39, while Clark and Whaley are each averaging 71.56. Schniederjans is ranked No. 32 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “I thought it was the best we’ve played all year (at the Seminole). I think things are starting to happen. Vince was back in the lineup; he has won college events in his career. He’s guy who can change our team if he plays well. With the younger guys, it’s just a matter of them getting more experience each week. James played some of the best golf he’s ever played here. He’s improved probably a shot and a half over last year. Luke challenged for the lead again on the final day. So everybody, I think, is in the right place. We just need to get some more experience under us before the ACC; we’ve got two events left.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is entering its 22nd under head coach Bruce Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have won 16 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 28 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GT_Golf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.