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Georgia Tech Golf Set for NCAA Raleigh Regional

Andy Ogletree is one of two Yellow Jackets to have advanced to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Raleigh, N.C. – After traveling West three straight years for its regional, Georgia Tech returns to familiar territory to begin postseason play as the top seed in the NCAA Raleigh (N.C.) Regional, which begins Monday at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State University.

The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 21st straight year and for the 28th time in the 30 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship. They are part of a regional field that includes 14 teams and five individuals.

NCAA Raleigh Regional site | Live Scoring | Georgia Tech Tournament Notes

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – A total of 81 teams and 45 individuals are competing at the six sites for spots in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, which will be conducted May 25-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. Of the 81 teams, 31 were automatic qualifiers by winning their conference championships, and the other 50 earned at-large bids.

Each regional is a 54-hole, stroke-play event with 13 teams and 10 individuals, or 14 teams and five individuals, competing. The top five teams after 54 holes and one individual not on those teams advance from each regional to the NCAA Championship finals, which has a field of 30 teams and six individuals.

The other five regional tournaments are being conducted in Bryan, Texas (Traditions Club; Texas A&M, top seed); Columbus, Ohio (Scarlet Course/OSU Golf Course; Oklahoma State, top seed); Kissimmee, Fla. (Reunion Resort; Vanderbilt, top seed); Norman, Okla. (Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club; Oklahoma, top seed) and Stockton, Calif. (The Reserve at Spanos Park; LSU, top seed).

The Raleigh Regional will play host to eight teams listed among the nation’s top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including (in order of seed) California (9), Texas (16), Arizona State (21), Duke (28), NC State (36), Liberty (40), Missouri (45), Santa Clara (52), Campbell (56), Middle Tennessee State (74), Augusta (111), Davidson (198) and Iona (268). Liberty, MTSU, Augusta, Davidson and Iona, as well as the Jackets, qualified automatically by winning their conference tournaments.

Competition in Raleigh begins at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tech will be paired with ninth-ranked California and No. 16 Texas, the No. 2 and 3 seeds, for Monday’s opening round, teeing off at 7:30 a.m. As long as the Jackets remain among the top three on the team leaderboard, they will tee off at 7:30 Tuesday and Wednesday.

TECH’S NCAA REGIONAL HISTORY – Georgia Tech has advanced through an NCAA regional 23 times in 27 tries, and all but three times since the NCAA went to a six-regional qualifying format in 2009. Head coach Bruce Heppler’s teams have won five regional tournaments outright, most recently in 2014, and tied for one other. Tech is playing in Raleigh for the second time, having been the No. 1 seed in 2014 with a team led by four current Tour pros in Anders Albertson, Ollie Schniederjans, Seth Reeves and Richy Werenski. The Yellow Jackets won that regional by 17 strokes over Washington, one of seven tournament victories for Tech that year, and reached match play at the NCAA Championship in Hutchinson, Kan., for the fourth time in five years.

TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech earned an automatic invitation to the NCAA regional by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship April 20-22 in New London, N.C. It was the 17th ACC title in program history, 12th under current head coach Bruce Heppler and the Yellow Jackets’ ninth in the last 13 years. The Jackets also accomplished winning the title without having a single individual finish in the top 10 – sophomores Luke Schniederjans and Tyler Strafaci tied for 12th. That had happened only once before in conference history.

Georgia Tech remains No. 4 in the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index after winning the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets also have a victory at the General James Hackler Championship this spring, along with a third-place finish at the Irish Creek Intercollegiate, a fifth-place finish at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawai’i and fourth-place finishes at the Puerto Rico Classic and the Valspar Collegiate. Tech posted a pair of wins and a runner-up finish in four fall events.

Tech’s four tournament wins this year have broken a two-year victory drought for the program.

Tech owns a 113-16-4 overall win-loss record this year against a schedule ranked the 14th most difficult in the country, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. That includes a 55-16-4 mark against top-50 teams. The Yellow Jackets have been remarkably consistent and balanced in its lineup, ranking third nationally in lowest dropped score (75.09), and only three individuals have finished outside the top 50 in nine tournaments in 2017-18.

TECH LINEUP – Georgia Tech has played the same six players in nearly every event this season with few exceptions, and all six are ranked between No. 49 and No. 103 in the latest Golfstat rankings – Noah Norton (49), Tyler Strafaci (53), Luke Schniederjans (65), Jacob Joiner (87), Chris Petefish (94) and Andy Ogletree (103). Among those, Petefish has the lone individual victory this year, that coming at the General Hackler Championship. They have 12 combined top-10 finishes and all six average between 71.52 and 72.89 strokes per round.

Norton, Petefish, Schniederjans and Strafaci all were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team.

Norton, a freshman from Chico Calif., leads the Yellow Jackets with four top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the General Hackler Championship this spring, and is second on the team with a stroke average of 71.56. Strafaci, a sophomore from Davie, Fla., has the Jackets’ best stroke average at 71.52, with a pair of top-10 finishes and a tie for 12th at the ACC Championship. Schniederjans, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., ranks third on Tech’s team with a 71.77 stroke average, has six top-20 finishes this year and also tied for 12th at the ACC Championship. Petefish, whose birdie on the 18th hole in the final round clinched the ACC title for the Yellow Jackets, is the team’s only tournament winner this year, having won the General Hackler.

Norton, who missed the Irish Creek event with a back injury, returned for the ACC Championship but struggled to a 43rd-place finish, yet still is the Jackets’ highest-ranked individual. Joiner was the odd man out for the ACC Championship and is again for the NCAA regional, as only five players can compete per team.

All five Tech individuals at the Valspar finished between 13th (Norton, Ogletree) and 31st place, four of the five placed between first and 22nd at the Hackler (Petefish, Norton, Ogletree, Schniederjans), and Norton, Petefish and Strafaci all tied for seventh at Puerto Rico. At Irish Creek, all five finished between 12th and 30th place. At the ACC Championshhip, Tech won despite having no player finish higher than 12th.

"COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “It’s a unique opportunity, out of 300-some golf teams in Division I, only 80 get to play in a regional. It’s a great opportunity to test yourself against really good teams, which we try to do every week as the year goes along. I still think our better golf could be ahead of us. I just think we can play better than we’ve played, and maybe that will come out."

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 23rd under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 53 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 17 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 32 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.

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