March 17, 2018
THE FLATS – Coming off a victory in its last tournament a week ago, Georgia Tech’s third-ranked golf team returns to action Sunday at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, which runs through Tuesday at the Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its fifth appearance in the Valspar Collegiate 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 will utilize a shotgun start each day (Sunday through Tuesday) at 8 a.m. It is played at the 7,114-yard, par-71 Floridian National Golf Club, part of The Floridian Resort and Spa.
The 12-team field, the strongest the Yellow Jackets have faced this spring, includes 10 teams ranked among the nation’s top 50 according to Golfstat – Oklahoma State (1), Texas A&M (2), Tech (3), LSU (12), Texas (14), Arkansas (16), South Florida (20), Florida State (23), Pepperdine (28) and Duke (35), as well as Houston and Lamar.
The Yellow Jackets won the inaugural event in 2014 and finished second last spring. Sophomore Tyler Strafaci won the individual title last year, while Ollie Schniederjans won medalist honors at the 2014 tournament. A sponsor’s exemption into the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship goes to the individual winner.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech is ranked No. 3 in the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index after breaking through for its third victory of the year last weekend at the General James Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Yellow Jackets opened the spring season with a fifth-place finish at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawai’i and a fourth-place finish at the Puerto Rico Classic. The Yellow Jackets won the Carpet Capital Collegiate and the Franklin American Mortgage Collegiate in the fall, along with a runner-up finish at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and a fourth-place showing against an ultra-strong field at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate.
The Yellow Jackets own a 78-11-4 overall win-loss record this year, including a 39-11-4 mark against top-50 teams.
TECH LINEUP – All five Georgia Tech players competing in the Valspar are ranked between No. 52 and No. 111 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Index – Noah Norton (52), Tyler Strafaci (63), Luke Schniederjans (84), Chris Petefish (111) and Andy Ogletree (113). All five are averaging between 71.33 and 72.19 strokes per round, and they have combined for 10 top-10 finishes.
Petefish, a senior from Danville, Calif., broke through to win his first collegiate event last weekend at the General James Hackler Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that on the heels of a tie for seventh at the Puerto Rico Classic. Norton tied for second, his fourth top-10 finish in seven events, and Ogletree tied for 15th. Strafaci, who has two top 10 finishes this year, including at Puerto Rico a month ago, returns to the lineup after playing the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship on a sponsor exemption last weekend.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “We’re getting near the end of the year, and ideally, we’d like to take our team that will play in the ACC Tournament to the tournament before that, which is the Irish Creek tournament in April. These guys have been under pressure and competing against each other for seven months, and at some point you have to decide who your five for post-season will be. We’re just not there yet. So we had seven guys playing, and the winner goes regardless of how much or how little he played. Ty is back with us this week, so we’ll see where he is.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 23rd under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 52 tournaments in his tenure. 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.