Kohala Coast, Hawai’i – Looking to defend its Atlantic Coast Conference championship from last spring and return to the NCAA Championship, Georgia Tech’s 12th-ranked golf team is on the Big Island of Hawai’i for its first spring season event, the Amer Ari Intercollegiate, starting Thursday.
Tech enjoyed a solid fall season, finishing second at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational and third at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational and the East Lake Cup, as well as an eighth-place showing at the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational.
Twenty teams will compete over three days (Thursday through Saturday) at the Mauna Lani Resort’s North Course in the 33rd edition of the event, which has attracted an increasingly strong field over the years. Nine of the 20 teams are ranked in the top 25 of the current Scoreboard NCAA Golf Ranking, and 13 teams are listed among the top 50.
After guiding the Yellow Jackets to the program’s 19th Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship last spring, head coach Bruce Heppler has three starters back for his 29th season on The Flats, including seniors Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and sophomore Hiroshi Tai (Singapore), each of whom are ranked among the world’s top 100 amateur players. They have formed the foundation of the Tech lineup throughout the fall.
The tournament will utilize a shotgun start format each day, with competition beginning at 7:30 a.m. local time (12:30 p.m. Eastern time) each day.
Christo Lamprecht, the world’s top-ranked amateur, won two tournaments in the fall. (photo by Mario Terrana)
TECH LINEUP – All three of Tech’s returning starters – Lamprecht, Forrester and Tai – are in the lineup for the Amer Ari Intercollegiate along with freshmen Kale Fontenot (Lafayette, La.) and Carson Kim (Yorba Linda, Calif).
Lamprecht is currently ranked the No. 1 amateur in the world. He is No. 2 in the Scoreboard collegiate rankings, but the No. 1-ranked player, Nick Dunlap, has turned pro. The 6-8 senior won twice in the fall, winning the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational and the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational while tying for 14th place at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational. He owns a team-best 68.67 stroke average, which is on pace to set a Tech program record.
Forrester, ranked No. 137 in the Scoreboard rankings, posted a top-10 finish at Olympia Fields and two top-20s. Tai, ranked No. 119, had a high finish of 14th at the Golf Club of Georgia and tied for 25th at the Ben Hogan.
Fontenot is ranked No. 24 in the Scoreboard rankings after winning the stroke-play portion of the East Lake Cup and tying for 30th at Olympia Fields. Kim tied for 30th at the Golf Club of Georgia and 13th at the East Lake Cup.
Senior Aidan Kramer (Oviedo, Fla.), who played in two fall events and tied for ninth at the Golf Club of Georgia, is competing as an individual.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech has played in the Amer Ari Intercollegiate every year since 1999, with the exception of the 2015. The 33rd annual event, which runs Thursday through Saturday, is a traditional collegiate 54-hole, 5-count-4 stroke-play tournament. The event will be contested at the Mauna Lani Golf Resort (par-72 North Course) on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i, the second time the event has been held at the venue.
The Yellow Jackets have won this event five times, all between 1999 and 2006, and six Yellow Jackets have won or shared the individual title, including Carlton Forrester (shared title in 1999), Matt Kuchar (shared title in 1999 and 2000), Bryce Molder (shared title in 2000), Troy Matteson (2002) and Cameron Tringale (2006). Tech finished in seventh place among 19 teams last year.
The 20-team field is loaded with nine teams ranked in the current NCAA Golf top-25, and 13 of the top 50, including (with ranking) top-ranked Auburn, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 4 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 11 Georgia Tech, No. 12 Florida State, No. 16 Texas, No. 18 Oregon, No. 22 Texas Tech, No. 31 UCLA, No. 42 Oklahoma State, No. 46 Oregon State, No. 49 San Jose State.
Georgia Tech finished third in its first-ever appearance in the East Lake Cup
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 29th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, having won 72 tournaments in his tenure. Heppler is the 10th-longest-tenured head coach in Division I men’s golf. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 33 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up five times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.