THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team, ranked No. 3 in the nation with three tournament wins under its belt from the fall, opens the 2020 spring schedule with its annual trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i for the Amer Ari Intercollegiate at the Waikoloa Resort.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its 22nd appearance in the Amer Ari Intercollegiate, which has been the traditional spring opener for the Yellow Jackets every year since 1999, with one exception. The 29th annual event, which runs Thursday through Saturday, is a 54-hole, 5-count-4 stroke-play tournament played at the 7,074-yard, par 72 Kings Course at the Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Kona Coast of Hawai’i.
The Yellow Jackets have won this event five times, all between 2000 and 2007, and six Yellow Jackets have won or shared the individual title, including Matt Kuchar (shared title in 2000 and 2001), Carlton Forrester (shared title in 2000), Bryce Molder (shared title in 2001), Troy Matteson (2003) and Cameron Tringale (2007).
The 20-team field, which gets stronger each year, boasts seven of the nation’s top 25 teams (No. 2 Texas Tech, No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 10 Arizona State, No. 21 Auburn, No. 22 Oregon State, No. 25 Texas), and two other top-50 teams in No. 27 Stanford and No. 43 Southern California. Six other top-100 teams – Colorado, Oklahoma State, Oregon, San Jose State, TCU and UC Davis also are in the field.
After a fall full of international competition, Andy Ogletree begins his final spring of college golf.
TEAM UPDATE – Head coach Bruce Heppler’s 25th Yellow Jacket team opens the spring season ranked No. 3 in the Bushnell Coaches Poll released at the end of the fall by the Golf Coaches Association, and are also No. 3 in the rankings by Golfstat, which determines seeding for NCAA regional play in May. Tech is No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Oklahoma is the top team in all three rankings.
Tech won three of its four events in the fall season, finishing the campaign by sweeping matches against No. 33 California, No. 23 UCLA and No. 5 Duke at the Cypress Point Classic in late October. The Yellow Jackets won their first two events of the fall, both stroke play tournaments, winning the Carpet Capital Collegiate by 20 strokes over North Florida and sharing the title at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational with No. 11 Baylor. The Jackets finished 10th in their home tournament at the Golf Club of Georgia.
“Winning three times is really positive,” said Heppler. “Day in and day out, with the number of events this group has won, I think this is one of the best teams we’ve ever had. They drive the ball as well as any team I’ve been a part of here. I think we’ve had a really good year, and I hope that goes all the way into June.
“This is a committed group. They’re working very hard right now even in the off-season, in the gym and in practice. They haven’t slowed down. They’re very talented, and it’s one of the hardest working groups we’ve had. I hope we have a tremendous spring and send our three seniors out with some great experiences.”
TECH LINEUP – Tech’s core group – seniors Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.), junior Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), begins its third spring season together, joined by sophomore Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), the Yellow Jackets during last spring’s post season and for two of the four events last fall.
Schniederjans, with three career wins including one at the Carpet Capital Collegiate last fall, and Strafaci are the Yellow Jackets’ two highest-ranked players nationally, sitting at No. 17 and 25, respectively, in the Golfstat rankings. They are ranked No. 6 and 5, respectively, in the Sagarin Index. U.S. Amateur champion Ogletree, who missed the Carpet Capital Collegiate last fall while competing in the Walker Cup, has spent the time since catching up, and is ranked No. 98 in Golfstat and No. 69 in Golfweek/Sagarin. Norton, who won the Patriot All-American Invitational just before the start of the New Year, is No. 120 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, with one top-10 finish from the fall.
Howe had a solid fall with a tie for 31st at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, and a tie for 52nd in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational. Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), a redshirt freshman who played as an individual at the Golf Club of Georgia in the fall, is competing in Hawai’i also as an individual, earning the spot in team qualifying.
Noah Norton was the only Yellow Jacket to play in competition since the end of the fall season, winning the Patriot All-America Invitational.
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the A-T Fund’s Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes, and Athletics Initiative 2020, Georgia Tech athletics’ ongoing $125 million initiative to allow Tech to recruit the nation’s most elite student-athletes, build a better student-athlete once they arrive on The Flats and, ultimately, win! To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 25th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 61 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 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 (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.