May 5, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s 48th-ranked golf team has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, and has been assigned to compete in the Tucson, Ariz., Regional, to be played May 16-18 at the Gallery Golf Club.
REGIONAL INFORMATION – The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 19th straight year and for the 26th time in the 28 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.
The NCAA announced on Monday all 81 teams and 45 individuals who will competing for spots in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, which will be conducted May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. Of the 81 teams, 31 were automatic qualifiers by winning their conference championships, and the other 50 earned at-large bids.
The top five finishers at each of the six regional sites, all of which take place May 16-18, will advance to the championship site. The other sites are Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Ol’ Colony Golf Complex, host: Alabama); Kohler, Wis. (Blackwolf Run Meadow Valley Course, host: Marquette); Albuquerque, N.M. (Championship Course at University of New Mexico, host: New Mexico); Stillwater, Okla. (Karsten Creek Golf Club, host: Oklahoma State) and Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt Legends Club, host: Vanderbilt).
The Tucson Regional will play host to eight teams listed among the nation’s top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including (in order of seed) national No. 1-ranked Stanford, the Pac-12 champion and an automatic qualifier, No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 13 California, No. 24 Oregon, No. 25 North Carolina, No. 36 North Florida, No. 37 Alabama-Birmingham, No. 48 Georgia Tech, Saint Mary’s (Calif.), the West Coast Conference champion, Georgia State, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, the Conference USA champion, UC Riverside, the Big West champion, and Siena, the MAAC champion.
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 in each regional advance to the NCAA Championship finals, which has a field of 30 teams and six individuals.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech is ranked No. 48 in the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 41 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, defeating four teams ranked ahead of them in the Golfstat rankings, and finished third (Princeton Invitational) and second (Clemson Invitational) in the two tournaments just prior to that, their best showings of the spring.
The Yellow Jackets finished 14th out of 15 teams in a loaded field and logged their highest score of the year (905, +53) at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, three weeks after posting their lowest score of the year (857, -7) in a sixth-place finish at the Puerto Rico Classic.
Tech has a 86-58 won-loss record cumulatively this year against a schedule rated the 13th-toughest in the country, and a 16-36-1 mark against top-25 teams. Only Texas, Stanford and Florida have faced more top-25 teams than have the Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets posted high finishes of fifth place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and the United States Collegiate Championship in the fall.
TECH NCAA REGIONAL HISTORY – Georgia Tech has failed to advance through an NCAA regional only twice in 25 tries, and only once since the NCAA went to a six-regional qualifying format in 2009. Heppler’s teams have won five regional tournaments outright, most recently in 2014, and tied for one other.
The NCAA began using regional qualifying tournaments in 1989, first with the 81 teams split among three sites (27 teams each), then with six sites with either 13 or 14 teams each beginning in 2009. Since the NCAA went to six regional sites in 2009, Tech has finished third (Bowling Green, Ky.), third (Milton, Ga.), tied for third (Radford, Va.), sixth/did not advance (Norman, Okla.), fourth (Tallahassee, Fla.), first (Raleigh, N.C.) and third (San Diego).
Tech’s first four victories all occurred in 27-team regionals in 1991 (New Haven, Conn.), 1998 (Daufuskie Island, S.C.), 1999 (Providence, R.I.) and 2002 (Roswell, Ga., tied with Clemson). Only the 2014 win occurred in a 13-team field.
HEAD COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “The best thing is that we have a tee time. We haven’t had the best year, we didn’t win the ACC Championship, but reaching the NCAA Championship is still out there for us. We only need to finish in the top five to advance, and that’s our major goal. School will be out today, and we’ll have a chance to get out and work hard toward making nationals. With a young team, we haven’t had much experience getting on courses like the one we’ll play. [Sophomore] Chris [Petefish] lived in Arizona for a while and has played the golf course, but that’s about it. We look forward to getting out there and playing.”
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.