March 20, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team returns to action following a three-week layoff for its third event of the spring in the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, which begins Monday at The Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its third appearance in the Valspar Invitational, which began two years ago and has become one of the spring’s premier events at one of Florida’s top golf venues. The 54-hole event begins Monday with two 18-hole rounds and concludes with the final 18 holes Tuesday. It is played at the 7,114-yard, par 71 Floridian National Golf Club, part of The Floridian Resort and Spa.
All 15 teams competing at the 2016 Valspar Collegiate Invitational are ranked among the top 50 in the latest Golfstat national rankings with four of the top 10 and 10 of the top 25. The field includes #3 Illinois, #5 Florida State, #7 Florida, #8 Texas, #11 Clemson, #13 Oklahoma State, #17 USF, #18 South Carolina, #22 LSU, #23 Arkansas, #29 Texas A&M, #36 Houston,#38 Memphis, #45 Georgia Tech and #48 Kent State.
The Yellow Jackets finished 10th in last year’s Valspar event, posting a 21-over-par score of 871, after winning the inaugural event in 2014 (13-under-par 837). Ollie Schniederjans won medalist honors at the 2014 tournament.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech is ranked No. 45 in the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 31 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets finished seventh in their last event, the Puerto Rico Classic, posting their lowest score of the year (7-under-par 857). Tech has a 49-39-1 won-loss record cumulatively this year against a schedule rated the sixth-toughest in the country, and a 15-24-1 mark against top-25 teams.
Only two teams in the Sagarin top 50 have faced more top-25 teams in competition this year than has Tech.
The Yellow Jackets posted high finishes of fifth place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, the United States Collegiate Championship in the fall and the Puerto Rico Classic. Tech also tied for seventh at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Challenge Cup and closed with a 10th-place finish at the rain-shortened Kiawah Classic.
TECH LINEUP – Head coach Bruce Heppler will take four of his top five scoring average leaders to Palm City, led by junior Vincent Whaley (McKinney, Texas), who has a pair of top-5 finishes to his credit this year, including a tie for fifth at the Amer Ari Invitational this spring. His 9-under-par score of 207 was a 54-hole career low. He is ranked No. 99 in the Golfwek/Sagarin Index, and leads the Jackets with a 72.41 stroke average.
Also on the trip is sophomore Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.), who is ranked No. 44 in the Sagarin Index on the strength of his victory at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in the fall and three other top-20 finishes, including a tie for 11th at the Puerto Rico Classic. Joiner, who did not go to Hawai’i, has a team-best personal win-loss percentage of 78.7 and has a team-low stroke average of 72.29.
Sophomore Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.) is coming off his best performance of the year, a tie for ninth place at the Puerto Rico Classic where he shot 4-under-par 212. Sophomore James Clark (Columbus, Ga.), with a 73.47 stroke average and one top-20 finish, and sophomore Michael Pisciotta (Alpahretta, Ga.) complete the Tech travel team.
JACKETS ADD MATCH PLAY EVENT TO SCHEDULE
Georgia Tech’s golf team has added a four-team, match-play event to its spring schedule next weekend. The event is similar to one Tech hosted and won in 2004 at the Capital City Club Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga.
The FarmLinks Collegiate Match Play will bring together Tech, ranked 44th in the nation in Golfstat, No. 4 Auburn, No. 12 Alabama and No. 15 Vanderbilt in a one-day, two-round tournament on Saturday, March 25, at FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala. Tech will face Vanderbilt in one semifinal, and Alabama will take on Auburn in the other, with the winners and losers facing off against each other for the championship and third place.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “I’m not sure we’ve ever gone this long between events, and now we have two in one week. We had a little bit of qualifying, but for the most part, it’s given us a chance to practice and work on individual and specific skill sets. It fell to where the Valspar event was during spring break. It’s one of the most challenging events we play all year other than the NCAA. Again, we’ve have a chance to find out where the bar it that we need to jump over. And we’ve added a match play event at the end of spring break with Vanderbilt, Auburn and Alabama which should be fun. We’ll get some match play experience in, and to play two events and not miss any class is ideal.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 21st year 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). For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.