Tech junior-to-be Tyler Strafaci is ranked No. 178 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci prevailed in a six-man playoff Monday to win the last available spot in his sectional qualifier in Jupiter, Fla., and advanced to the 118th U.S. Open Championship, which will be held June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
The rising junior from Davie, Fla., birdied the first playoff hole and parred the second to outlast five others, taking one of the three positions allocated in the 48-player field at The Bear’s Club. He shot 71-70 in the 36 regulation holes for a 3-under-par total of 141 to tie for third place with five others.
The playoff included Cristian DiMarco (son of former PGA Tour player Chris DiMarco), University of Florida standout and Fred Haskins Award finalist Andy Zhang, 35-year-old former Georgia player Christo Greyling, Nathan Stamey of Canton, N.C., and Canon Claycomb of Orlando, Fla.
Playing in two threesomes in the playoff, Strafaci and Stamey each birdied the 450-yard par-4 first hole to eliminate the other four players. On the second playoff hole, both faced long putts from the edge of the green on the 240-yard par-3 second. Strafaci’s birdie attempt was well short, but he made a 10-footer right-to-left breaker to save par, while Stamey missed his attempt from approximately six feet.
“I haven’t been playing too well the past year, so it was good to see the hard work come together,” Strafaci told Golf Digest. “I was feeling stressed the whole day. My weakness is I’m very conservative. I’ve been working on being more aggressive, and it paid off last couple holes.”
Strafaci, who last summer survived an 11-for-1 playoff at the U.S. Junior Amateur, will be the first undergraduate player from Tech to play in a U.S. Open since 1998, when Matt Kuchar tied for 14th place at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. Kuchar had won the 1997 U.S. Amateur following his freshman year at Tech, and was a rising junior for the Yellow Jackets.
The most recent Tech players to play in the U.S. Open as amateurs were Ollie Schniederjans, who tied for 42nd place in 2015 at Chambers Bay, the summer following his senior year at Georgia Tech, and Bryce Molder, who tied for 30th place in 2001 at Southern Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, Okla. Both players had graduated from Tech prior to the U.S. Open, but remained amateurs for the national championship. Molder remained an amateur in order to play on the U.S. team for the Walker Cup later in the summer, while Schniederjans earned his spot in the U.S. Open as the winner of the Mark H McCormick Medal as the top amateur player in the world in 2014. The legendary Bobby Jones won four U.S. Open championships (1923, 1927, 1929, 1930) as an amateur.
Strafaci joins five former Tech players playing professionally in the U.S. Open field, three of whom qualified Monday. Second-year PGA Tour pro Richy Werenski also advanced from The Bear’s Club, posting scores of 71-69 for a 4-under-par total of 140 to finish second. Ollie Schniederjans, also a second-year PGA Tour pro, shot 6-under-par 138 to tie for 10th place and take one of 14 spots available in the 112-player field in Columbus, Ohio. Roberto Castro (74-69, 1-under 143), a PGA Tour pro veteran who is playing this season on the Web.com Tour, won a playoff to take the last of three spots available in the 43-player field at Ansley Golf Club-Settindown Creek in Roswell, Ga. Kuchar and Chesson Hadleyalready were exempt into the U.S. Open due to their position in the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Strafaci made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team and finished the spring of his sophomore year ranked No. 52 in the national Golfstat rankings, leading the Yellow Jackets with a 71.30 stroke average. He is ranked No. 178 in the current World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Other Tech pro golfers came up short in Monday’s qualifying. Stewart Cink missed qualifying by one stroke in Columbus, Ohio, Cameron Tringale missed the cut in Jupiter, Fla., J.T. Griffin, Troy Mattesonand Vincent Whaley failed to quality in Memphis. Rising Tech junior Andy Ogletree missed by two shots in Roswell, Ga.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team has completed 23 years 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 (@GTGolf)and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.