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Jackets Come Up One Stroke Shy at Watersound Invitational

Panama City Beach, Fla. – Looking to overcome an eight-stroke deficit and overtake the No. 1 team in the nation Tuesday, Georgia Tech came up one shot short. Ross Steelman carded the low round of the tournament, a 9-under-par 63, and Georgia Tech posted the seventh-lowest round in program history, a 21-under-par 267, but the 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets finished in second place and a stroke behind Vanderbilt at the Watersound Invitational.

The final round became a two-team race as the Yellow Jackets played the front nine at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club 12 strokes under par and sliced the Commodores’ lead in half. Tech continued its assault on the back nine and took the lead at one point, but Vandy made just enough birdies down the stretch to escape with the victory, and on the 17th hole carded three birdies and an eagle to shut the door on the Jackets. Tech got three birdies at 17 and two more on 18, but it was not enough.

Tech returns to action next week at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas, Nev.

TECH LINEUP – Though low scores were plentiful Tuesday, Steelman beat them all, recording three birdies and an eagle on the front nine, and five birdies on a bogey-free back nine to post his 63. The senior from Columbia, Mo., finished alone in seventh place individually at 10-under-par 206.

Freshman Hiroshi Tai (Singapore) carded a 5-under-par 67 for the Jackets, and senior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) added a 4-under-par 68, while senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and junior Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) pitched in with 3-under-par 69s.

Lamprecht was unsuccessful in his bid for a second tournament title this year, tying for second place at 13-under-par 203, while Tai tied for ninth at 7-under-par 209, and Forrester tied for 14th at 4-under-par 212. Howe and sophomore Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands), competing as an individual, tied for 22nd place at 214 (-2).

Tech’s team score of 267 not only was the seventh-lowest in program history, but was the best round of the tournament by six strokes. The Yellow Jackets led the tournament in total birdies with 68, and far outpaced the field in scoring on par-5 holes (-31).

Ross Steelman birdied eight holes and added an eagle for his 63 Tuesday. (photo by Ross Obley)


TEAM LEADERBOARD – Led by the nation’s top player, Gordon Sargent, who shot s 6-under-par 66, Vanderbilt nearly duplicated its round 2 score, posting a 14-under-par 274, and needed every stroke to hold off the Yellow Jackets. The Commodores finished 54 holes at 38-under-par 826, while Tech finished at 37-under-par 827, which matches the 12th-best 54-hole score in program history.

No. 11 Florida State (840, -24) and No. 17 Alabama (841, -23) also shot double-digits under par Tuesday, completely separating themselves from the rest of the field to finish third and fourth, respectively.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Frederik Kjettrup of Florida State, the 36-hole leader, also distanced himself from the field Tuesday with a 7-under-par 65 and won medalist honors by five shots at 18-under-par 198. Lamprecht and Sargent each finished at 13-under-par 203, followed by Vanderbilt’s Cole Sherwood and FSU’s Michael Mays at 12-under-par 204.

Alabama’s Thomas Ponder (205, -11), Tech’s Steelman (206, -10) and the Commodores’ Matthew Reidel (207, -9) took the next three spots. Tech’s Tai tied for ninth with three others at 209 (-7).

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech competed in the Watersound Invitational for the third straight year, having won the 2022 tournament by five strokes over Alabama. The tournament follows the traditional collegiate 54-hole, 5-count-4, stroke-play format, with 18 holes each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The event iss contested at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, a venue measuring 7,246 yards (par 72) that served as the venue for the ACC Championship last April.

This tournament was held in mid-January in 2021, the Jackets’ first tournament in a packed spring schedule that followed an idle fall brought on by COVID. Tech finished seventh in a limited 10-team field that included all ACC teams.

The 11-team field for 2023 included six Atlantic Coast Conference teams in No. 40 Clemson, No. 11 Florida State, No. 12 Georgia Tech, NC State, No. 36 Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, the nation’s top-ranked team in Vanderbilt, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Alabama, No. 24 Mississippi State and Air Force.

Round 3 in Photos

Photos by Ross Obley


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Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 28th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 70 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 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


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