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Georgia Tech Golf Shoots for NCAA Championship

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech, seeded No. 11 and fresh off a victory at the NCAA Salem Regional last week, is set to begin competition in the NCAA Championship finals for the 32nd time in program history, looking for the program’s first national championship, when the Yellow Jackets tee off Friday morning at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Head coach Bruce Heppler’s 28th Tech team returns four starters from a team that tied for 12th in last year’s NCAA Championship, and three from the unit that finished 15th in 2022, both of which were played at Grayhawk. Since the NCAA added match play to the format to determine its champion in 2009, the Yellow Jackets have advanced to match play four times and looks to return for the first time since 2014.

Tech enters the NCAA Championship playing its best golf of the year, having won its 19th Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in April and the NCAA Salem Regional last week. They were the Yellow Jackets’ first victories of 2022-23 after posting runner-up finishes five times in the regular season.

The Yellow Jackets bring three All-ACC performers – senior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), junior Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and senior Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) to Arizona along with senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) who was Tech’s high finisher individually (T-15) at last year’s NCAA Championship and freshman Hiroshi Tai (Singapore), a two-time winner this year and a runner-up at the ACC Championship.

Tech tees off at 9:32 a.m. Eastern time Friday afternoon (hole No. 1) and 2:52 p.m. Saturday morning (10th hole), paired with No. 10 seed Oklahoma, who finished second at the Norman Regional) and No. 12 seed Auburn (winner of the Auburn regional) for the first two rounds. Tee times and pairings for the remaining rounds of stroke play will be determined by team position on the leaderboard. Thirty teams will play 54 holes Friday through Sunday, with the field cut to 15 for the final round of stroke play Monday, after which the individual champion will be crowned. The top eight teams after 72 holes will advance to a match play bracket to determine the team champion on Wednesday.

Vanderbilt, the nation’s top-ranked team and the runner-up at the Auburn Regional last week, is the top seed at the NCAA Championship, followed by North Carolina (third at Salem Regional), Illinois (second at Bath Regional), Arizona State (champion at Las Vegas Regional), Texas Tech (fourth at Norman Regional), Stanford (second at Las Vegas), Florida State (third at Norman), Pepperdine (fifth at Norman) and Florida (fourth at Bath).

Other regional champions in the 30-team field for the championship are No. 21 seed Georgia (Bath), No. 17 seed Mississippi State (Morgan Hill) and No. 14 Alabama (Norman). The rest of the field, in order of seed, includes Texas A&M, Virginia, Texas, Oregon, Colorado State, Ohio State, Arkansas, Baylor, Duke, East Tennessee State, Brigham Young, San Francisco, Chattanooga, New Mexico and Colorado.

HOW THE JACKETS GOT HERE – Tech has been ranked as high as No. 8 this spring in the Golfstat rankings, currently sitting in the No. 11 spot, and holds a season-high No. 4 in the in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets won the ACC Championship after winning the stroke-play portion by 16 shots, then defeating Duke and Wake Forest at match play. Tech then won the NCAA Salem Regional with a program-record score of 53-under-par, overtaking Arkansas on the final day to win by eight strokes.

Tech’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, and the Jackets are 32-23-3 against the nation’s top 25 teams according to that measure, 28-24-3 according to Golfstat.

Statistically, Tech ranks fifth nationally in average individual score (70.77), No. 1 in final-round scoring average (70.00), No. 8 in par-3 scoring, and No. 6 on par-4 holes and No. 5 on par-5s.

Four of the five starters who teed it up for Tech in last year’s NCAA Championship are back for this edition. Head coach Bruce Heppler will field the same starting lineup that has competed in each of the Jackets’ events this spring, including All-ACC honorees Connor Howe, Christo Lamprecht and Ross Steelman.

Lamprecht, a 6-8 junior from South Africa who is a finalist for the Fred Haskins Award and is the top-ranked player in the International team for the 2023 Palmer Cup, won the Inverness Invitational in the fall and has finished in the top 10 in each of Tech’s six spring events, including a third-place finish at the NCAA Salem Regional and a ninth-place finish at the ACC Championship.

Howe, a fifth-year senior from Ogden, Utah, has recorded top-10 finishes in Tech’s last four events (Linger Longer Invitational, The Goodwin, ACC Championship, NCAA Salem Regional). Steelman, a senior from Columbia, Mo., has finished in the top 10 in six of the eight tournaments in which he has competed this year, including five this spring. Steelman delivered the deciding point in each of Tech’s ACC Championship matches against Duke and Wake Forest, and tied for 11th in stroke play at both the ACC and NCAA regional.

Freshman Hiroshi Tai of Singapore, a two-time winner in the fall (Maui Jim individual event, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate), has a pair of top-10 finishes this spring, including a runner-up finish in medal play at the ACC Championship, where he lost a three-hole playoff to Michael Brennan of Wake Forest. Senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), who tied for 14th at Watersound and 11th at The Goodwin, rounds out the starting five.

Sophomore Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands), who has competed in five events this year and has a pair of top-10 finishes, is the Yellow Jackets’ alternate player.

All five Tech players are listed among the top 100 in at least one of the national rankings. Lamprecht (No. 6) and Steelman (No. 15) and are Tech’s top two players in the Golfstat rankings, while Lamprecht rates No. 5 and Steelman 10th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Howe is listed among the top 40 in both rankings (No. 36 in Golfstat, No. 39 Golfweek/Sagarin). Forrester is No. 79 in Golfstat, while Tai is No. 93 in the Sagarin Index.

The Yellow Jackets won the NCAA Salem (S.C.) Regional by eight strokes. (photo by Andy Mead)

 

TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 32 times since 1985 (33 times in program history), which is tied for fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (36), Arizona State (35), Florida (34) and Texas (34), three of whom are in the field in Scottsdale.

The Yellow Jackets have qualified for match play four times since the advent of the stroke-play/match-play format in 2009, finishing third in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014. Tech lost in the quarterfinals each time, except for 2013, when the Jackets lost in the semifinals. Tech lost to the eventual champion three times in its four appearances in 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 introduction of match play). Only Oklahoma State, which has 18, Texas (6) and Purdue (5) have more. The Yellow Jackets have finished in the top eight of stroke play 16 times.

In the two NCAA Championships played at Grayhawk Golf Club, Tech finished 15th in 2022 and tied for 12th last year.

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 collegiate titles under a match play format before the NCAA took sponsorship of the championship in 1939.

Christo Lamprecht is the Yellow Jackets’ highest ranked player in the nation at No. 6 by Golfstat. (photo by Andy Mead)

 

CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION/FORMAT – Finals play consists of 72 holes of stroke play followed by an eight-team match play tournament. Stroke play begins Friday, May 26 and continued thru Sunday, May 29 (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 30 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 30, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 31.

The entire championship is conducted on the Raptor course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., which measures 7,289 yards and plays to a par of 70. This is the last of three straight years that the Grayhawk will host the NCAA Championship. The championship moves to LaCosta Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., for the next three years (2024-26).

  • Friday, May 26 – First round of stroke play competition (Tech begins at 9:32 a.m. ET, No. 1 tee)
  • Saturday, May 27 – Second round of stroke play competition (Tech begins at 2:52 p.m. ET, No. 10 tee)
  • Sunday, May 28 – Third round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 36-hole scores)
  • Monday, May 29 – Final round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 54-hole scores)
  • Tuesday, May 30 – Quarterfinals and semifinals of team match play
  • Wednesday, May 31 – Championship match to determine team champion

TELEVISION – Golf Channel will air live coverage of the final round of stroke play Monday, May 29 (5-9 p.m. Eastern time), the team quarterfinals (12-3:30 p.m. ET) and semifinals (5-9 p.m. ET) on Tuesday May 30, and the team championship match Wednesday, May 31 (5-9 p.m. ET). Encore presentations will be aired at 10 p.m. each day. Read more details here.

Ross Steelman has finished 12th or higher in all six stroke play events this spring. (photo by Andy Mead)

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

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 Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF

Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 28th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 71 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 31 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.

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