Sept. 8, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team, which returns everyone from last year’s NCAA regional team but has a fresh look with four freshmen, gets its fall schedule underway this weekend with the 28th Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Carpet Capital Collegiate is being played Friday through Sunday at The Farm Golf Club, a 7,012-yard, par 72 layout designed by Tom Fazio near Dalton, Ga. The Yellow Jackets have been the institutional host of this event since its inception in 1989, winning seven times, most recently in 2013. Tech finished fifth last year behind Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina and LSU, all of whom return to compete this weekend. LSU and South Carolina both advanced to match play at the NCAA Championship last spring, and the 14-team field also includes NCAA Championship entrants Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Virginia.
TECH’S CARPET CAPITAL COLLEGIATE HISTORY – Georgia Tech has won the Carpet Capital Collegiate seven times in its 27-year history, most recently in 2013, the most of any participant. Clemson has won four times, Alabama three. A Yellow Jacket has won medalist honors eight times, including each of the past three years (Jacob Joiner last fall, Ollie Schniederjans in 2013 and 2014). Current PGA Tour pros Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, Troy Matteson and Bryce Molder also have claimed victory at The Farm, with Molder taking the title three consecutive times between 1998 and 1999, when the event moved from the spring to the fall schedule.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech made the field for the NCAA regionals last spring but failed to advance to the NCAA Championship for only the third time, and finished the spring ranked No. 38 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 17 in Golfweek’s college golf preview, and are outside the top 25 in the Golf Coaches Association of America’s pre-season poll.
Head coach Bruce Heppler has everybody back from that team, including seniors Vincent Whaley (McKinney, Texas) and Michael Hines (Acworth, Ga.) and a trio of juniors in James Clark (Columbus, Ga.), Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) and Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.), who have combined to averaged 60 collegiate rounds in their careers. But Heppler, in his 22nd season at the helm, has added a highly-regarded class of four freshmen, including Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.), Anton Serafini (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.), who were all rated among the top 100 junior golfer in their class.
TECH LINEUP – Heppler introduced a new twist to the team’s annual 108-hole qualifying tournament for the season opener, all of which was contested at East Lake Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship. Each 18-hole round consisted of the Yellow Jackets’ being paired up for two nine-hole matches. Over six rounds, each player logged 10 nine-hole matches, with a point awarded for each victory and a half-point for each halved match.
In his first attempt at qualifying for Tech’s travel squad, Ogletree outpaced everyone with eight points, with Clark close behind at 7.5. Sophomore Tyler Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) was third with six points, followed by Hines and Petefish (each with 5.5). Schniederjans, younger brother of three-time All-American Ollie Schniederjans, accumulated five points and will compete as an individual in the tournament his brother twice won.
Petefish was No. 2 on the team in stroke average last year (73.48) while Clark was fourth (73.77). They were two of three Tech players to compete in every event on the schedule. Hines compiled a 75.38 average in nine tournaments. Joiner played in just three events, posting a high finish of 23rd at Clemson. Ogletree, a five-time state high school champion in Mississippi, comes in on the heels of a solid summer amateur schedule that he capped with a victory at the Cardinal Amateur.
Not in the lineup are Whaley, who posted four top-10 finishes, won the Clemson Invitational and carried a team-low 72.16 stroke average last year, and Jacob Joiner, the defending champion of the Carpet Capital Collegiate. It marks the second time that a Tech player is unable to defend his title at the event (Chesson Hadley failed to make the travel squad in 2008 after capturing the title in 2007).
COACH Bruce Heppler ON THE TEAM’S NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT – “We lost a lot of competitiveness last year with only seven players. Our performance on the road was a reflection of that. I’ve watched the Ryder Cup and a lot of other match play events, coached at the Palmer Cup, and you can see the level of intensity in match play vs. stroke play. Winning and losing starts on the very first tee. In an effort to create urgency and competitiveness, we tried a different format. You have to respond and execute now. That’s what we wanted, and that’s what we got. I saw a lot of guys respond when they had to.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is entering its 22nd under head coach Bruce Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have won 16 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 28 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.