Fayetteville, Ark. – Georgia Tech’s No. 7-ranked golf team, which finished fourth last week in the NCAA Pullman Regional to qualify for the NCAA Championship finals, opens play Friday afternoon at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
Tech advanced to the championship finals with a 22-under-par score of 818 in the Pullman Regional, finishing behind Texas A&M, Brigham Young and Oklahoma. South Carolina was the fifth team to advance from that regional.
The Yellow Jackets are playing in the NCAA Championship for the 29th time in program history, for the 28th time since 1985, and for the first time since 2015. Tech is paired for the first two rounds (Friday and Saturday) of the 72-hole stroke-play portion of the championship with No. 8 Duke and No. 9 Southern California, teeing off at 2:05 p.m. Eastern time Friday and 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Pairings for the final two rounds Sunday and Monday will be based on team score.
The NCAA Championship field includes 30 teams, comprised of the top five finishers from each of six regional tournaments last week. Oklahoma State, the top-ranked team in the nation all spring, is the top seed after winning the Louisville Regional, followed by Arizona State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt (Myrtle Beach Regional champion), Texas (Austin Regional champion), Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Duke, Southern California and Stanford (Stanford Regional champion).
Seeds 11-20 are Auburn, California, Clemson, Georgia (Athens Regional champion), Brigham Young, South Carolina, LSU, Texas A&M (Pullman Regional champion), North Florida and Pepperdine.
Seeds 21-30 are Louisville, Liberty, Baylor, Illinois, North Carolina, TCU, UNLV, Ohio State, Georgia Southern and SMU.
The field will be cut to 15 teams for the final round of stroke play Monday, after which the individual champion will be crowned. The top eight teams will advance to the match play bracket, which will determine the team champion. Quarterfinal and semifinal matches take place Tuesday, May 28, followed by the championship match Wednesday, May 29.
Golf Channel will televise the final round of stroke play Monday and the entire match play championship.
Interviews with Andy Ogletree, Luke Schniederjans and head coach Bruce Heppler
TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 28 times since 1985 (29 times in program history), which is tied for fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (34), Arizona State (32), Florida (31) and Texas (31). Tech has posted nine top-8 finishes in the last 14 tries.
The Yellow Jackets tied for 10th in 2009, the first-year of the stroke-play/match-play format, but qualified for match play each of the next four times they advanced to the NCAA Championship (third in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014). Tech did not advance out of its regional in 2012, 2016, 2017 or 2018.
Tech lost to the eventual champion three times in its four forays into match play – Augusta State by the score of 3-2 in the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011 and to Alabama (3-0-2) in 2013.
Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship four times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005, all before the advent of match play), more than any team in the history of the championship except Houston, Michigan, Texas and Wake Forest, who also have four, and Oklahoma State, which has five.
In 1993 and 2002, the Yellow Jackets led after 54 holes, but finished second by one shot to Florida in 1993, and by four shots to Minnesota in 2002.
In 2000, the Yellow Jackets rallied to tie Oklahoma State after 72 holes, but lost to the Cowboys on the first hole of a playoff. Tech and OSU matched the lowest 72-hole team score in NCAA Championship history (36-under-par 1,116) at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala. In 2005, Tech finished 11 shots behind Georgia, and seven shots ahead of third-place Washington.
Since Bruce Heppler became Tech’s coach, the Jackets have finished in the top eight 11 times.
Three Tech players have won national collegiate championships. Troy Matteson did it most recently in 2002 at Ohio State. Watts Gunn (1927) and Charlie Yates (1934) won national titles under a match play format before the NCAA took sponsorship of the championship in 1939.
TEAM UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets stand No. 7 in the nation in the Golfstat, and No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and No. 4 in the most recent Bushnell Coaches Poll. Tech has won six tournaments this year, one shy of the all-time high of seven won by the 2001-02 and 2013-14 teams and more than any other team in Division I golf except top-ranked Oklahoma State. (Golfstat rankings are used to seed the teams in the NCAA Championship and the regional qualifying tournaments.)
Tech advanced to the NCAA Championship by finishing fourth in the NCAA regional held in Pullman, Wash., behind Texas A&M, Brigham Young and Oklahoma.
This spring, Tech won a share of the Puerto Rico Classic title, took an 11-stroke victory at the Clemson Invitational and a 15-shot win at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship this spring. Tech finished sixth at the Southern Highlands Collegiate after holding the 36-hole lead, and was 12th in the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, both against extremely strong fields, prior to winning the Clemson event the first weekend of April.
In the fall, the Jackets won the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and were co-champions at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, a match play event.
Tech is 31-25-1 against current top-25 teams this year, 58-28-2 vs. top-50 teams, and 83-28-3 vs. top-100 teams, and its schedule is rated the seventh-most difficult in the nation according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.
Statistically, Tech ranks No. 4 in the nation in average individual score (70.80), No. 2 in comparison to par (-0.87), No. 1 in first-round average (70.18) and No. 2 in par-4 scoring (4.01). The Yellow Jackets also rank in the top 10 in scoring on par 3s and par 5s, are No. 5 in total birdies and No. 3 in average drop score (74.88).
TECH LINEUP – Head coach Bruce Heppler is sending out the same starting five that competed in the Yellow Jackets’ last six events, beginning with the Puerto Rico Classic in mid-February – juniors Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.), Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.), sophomore Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.) and freshman Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah).
Four Yellow Jackets playing in the NCAA regional, each of whom have played all 11 team events this year, were selected to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team and are ranked 81st or higher in the national Golfstat rankings. Ogletree (No. 18), who has been the Yellow Jackets’ top finisher in six of Tech’s seven spring events and has four top-10 finishes, including a runner-up performance at the ACC Championship, is the team’s highest ranked player, followed by Schniederjans (No. 26), Norton (No. 74) and Strafaci (No. 81).
They have combined for 16 top-10 finishes (Schniederjans has five, Ogletree and Strafaci each have four, Norton has three). They are separated by just over a stroke in stroke average, with Ogletree and Schniederjans leading the way at 69.71.
Ogletree tied for 12th place at the NCAA Pullman Regional to lead the Jackets, while Schniederjans tied for 17th.
Howe, with a 71.18 stroke average in 27 rounds, is playing in his seventh straight event as a counting member of the travel team, having tied for 14th place at the ACC Championship and 17th at the Pullman Regional.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship field includes 30 teams, five advancing from each of six regional qualifying tournaments that were contested May 13-15 around the United States, and six individuals, one qualifying from each of those regional sites.
The championship is being contested at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., which plays to a par of 72 (36-36) and measures 7,550 yards (3,673-3,877).
Finals play consists of three days of stroke play on Friday, May 24 thru Sunday, May 26 (54 holes), after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team will be determined. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on Monday, May 27 to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play as well as the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by a match-play format that will consist of quarterfinals and semifinals conducted on Tuesday, May 28, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 29.
GOLF Channel will provide extensive coverage of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. Live coverage begins on Monday, May 27 from 3-7 p.m. featuring the final round of stroke play and the awarding of the individual medalist honors. Coverage continues on Tuesday, May 28, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. with the quarterfinals of match play and returns for the match play semifinals from 3-7 p.m. Coverage culminates with the championship match on Wednesday, May 29 from 3-7 p.m. (All times are CT).
Noah Norton brings the music to the Yellow Jackets' practice round
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (All times local – Central)
Friday, May 24
- 6:50 a.m. – First round of stroke play competition
Saturday, May 25
- 6:50 a.m. – Second round of stroke play competition
Sunday, May 26
- 6:50 a.m. – Third round of stroke play competition
Monday, May 27
- 11 a.m. – Tee times begin for final round of stroke play competition
- 3-7 p.m. – Live coverage on GOLF Channel
- 7:30 p.m. – Individual awards ceremony
- 7:45 p.m. – Quarterfinal Match Play pairings determined
Tuesday, May 28
- 7 a.m. – Match #1 and #2 begin (1st and 10th tees)
- 7:50 a.m. – Match #3 and #4 begin (1st and 10th tees)
- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Live coverage (quarterfinals) on GOLF Channel
- 1:30 p.m. – Match #5 begins (winners of match #1 and #2)
- 2:20 p.m. – Match #6 begins (winners of match #3 and #4)
- 3-7 p.m. – Live coverage (semifinals) on GOLF Channel
- 7:30 p.m. – Semifinalist awards ceremony
- 7:45 p.m. – Championship Match Play pairings determined
Wednesday, May 29
- 2:25 p.m. – Championship Match begins (winner Match #5 vs. winner of Match #6)
- 3-7 p.m. – Live coverage (finals) on GOLF Channel
- Following Play – Awards ceremony
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 24th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, having won 59 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in program history, made 28 appearances in the NCAA Championship finals 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). For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.