March 21, 2017
Palm City, Fla. – Freshman Tyler Strafaci shot a 2-under-par 69 to win his first collegiate event, and 27th-ranked Georgia Tech rallied to nearly win the team title Tuesday, but wound up as the runner-up at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational at The Floridian National Golf Club.
TECH LINEUP – Strafaci, from just down the Florida East coast in Davie, began the day in a tie for fifth place, two strokes off the lead, went 3-under-par over the last six holes, carding a 69 to overtake four golfers and capture his first collegiate championship. It was his third top-20 finish this spring in four events.
His round was matched Tuesday by junior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.), who finished in a tie for 17th place at 216 (+3), his third top-20 finish this year. Freshman Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) and senior Vincent Whaley (McKinney, Texas) each shot 70 for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) did not count for Tech after posting a 76. Ogletree tied for 18th place at 217 (+4), his third top-20 finish this year.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Georgia Tech began the day 11 shots off the lead of 10th-ranked Wake Forest and played solidly all the way through, particularly on the back nine where the Yellow Jackets went 4-under-par, nine strokes better than they played it Monday. Tech posted a 6-under-par 278 for the round, a score bettered in the entire tournament only by Texas’s Tuesday round of 276. The Jackets (860, +8) got within one shot of the Demon Deacons, who shot 288 (+4) Tuesday and completed the tournament at 859 (+7).
Third-ranked Oklahoma State finished third at 861 (+9), followed by No. 18 Texas and No. 12 LSU, tied for fourth at 864 (+12). No. 14 Texas A&M finished sixth at 867 (+15).
Ten of the 14 teams in the field are ranked among the top 50 in the nation according to Golfstat.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Strafaci shot his second straight 69 Tuesday to follow an opening 73, and finished 54 holes at 2-under-par 211, one shot clear of 10th-ranked Will Zalatoris of Wake Forest (70 Tuesday) and No. 80 Scott Stevens of South Carolina (71), who tied for second place at 212 (-1).
Strafaci, who became the second Tech champion in this event, joining All-American Ollie Schniederjans, also beat out nine other players ranked among the nation’s top 50 in the Golfstat rankings, and in doing so was awarded an exemption to play in the 2018 Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour.
A group of six players, including No. 2-ranked Sam Burns of LSU, No. 25 Doug Ghim of Texas and No. 32 Kristoffer Ventura of Oklahoma State, tied for fourth place at even-par 213.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “The last two days, they have played like I thought they could all year. It’s only the second time these five guys have played in the same tournament. The course is challenging, and it was great to get to the 16th tee box and have everybody still in a position to make a difference. It’s nice to be able to be in the fighting with the best teams in the country. I’m really happy for Ty, he had a great tournament. I’m proud of Vince and his round today. If we’re going to win anything, we need him to play like that. We learned we can be competitive no matter where we go.”
Tyler Strafaci SAYS – “I knew I had a chance to win, but I just wanted to put another solid round up for the team so we could have a chance to win. And we almost won pulled it off. It’s unbelievable to win against a field like this. I just don’t really know what to say. I get to play in a PGA Tour event, and I can’t be happier to get to do that.
“[The Floridian] is similar to a lot of Florida golf courses. You need to keep the ball in play and hit a lot of greens. You can’t get around it just chipping and putting. It fits me. I’ve always been a good driver of the ball. I think we’re the best driving team in the country. We’re all ling and straight, and we don’t miss many fairways.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech made its fourth appearance in the Valspar Invitational, which began three years ago and has become one of the spring’s premier events at one of Florida’s top golf venues. The 54-hole event continues concludes at 8 a.m. Tuesday with a split-tee start. It is played at the 7,114-yard, par 71 Floridian National Golf Club, part of The Floridian Resort and Spa.
Ten of the 14 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.