Dublin, Ohio – James Clark won the 18th hole for a 2-up win over Kent State’s Chris Doody, providing the clinching point as No. 4 Georgia Tech edged the Golden Flashes, 3-2-1, Monday morning in the opening round of the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. The Yellow Jackets moved into the semifinals of the event to face No. 22 South Carolina, who defeated Stanford, 4-2, in the morning.
The afternoon semifinals matches were halted at 6:45 p.m. because of lightning in the area and play was suspended with the Yellow Jackets leading the Gamecocks in three matches, trailing in two and tied in one. Play is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and the final round matches have been cancelled due to the teams’ various travel arrangements. The winners of the semifinal matches will be declared co-champions.
Junior Tyler Strafaci is up two holes in Will Miles with five holes to play, while redshirt freshman Ben Smith is up three holes on Andrew Spiegler with six holes to play, and James Clark is ahead three holes on Ryan Hall with seven holes to play. Junior Luke Schniederjans is all square with Scott Stevens through 14 holes. Junior Andy Ogletree is down a hole to Harry Corbin with five to play, and freshman Connor Howe is down three holes to Ryan Stachler through 10.
In the other semifinal match, Georgia leads Clemson in three matches, trailing in two and all square in one. In the loser’s bracket, Stanford leads in all six matches against Kent State, while Florida State and Ohio State are knotted 2-2-2.
First round: Georgia Tech d. Kent State, 3-2-1 – Clark, who lost the first hole to Doody, quickly knotted his match on the second hole and never trailed after that, leading by as many as three holes at the turn. Doody rallied to pull even at 13, but the Tech senior from Columbus, Ga., quickly answered with a birdie at the par-4 14th and led the rest of the way.
Clark’s win gave Tech its third point in the match after Schniederjans and Strafaci had already defeated their opponents. Schniederjans led wire to wire in dispatching Gisli Sveinbergsson, 2-up. Strafaci trailed Bjarki Petursson by two holes after 12, but pulled even at 15 and closed out his 2 and 1 victory with pars at 16 and 17.
Ogletree halved his match with Josh Gilkison by winning the 18th hole, which proved critical in avoiding a tiebreaker scenario to see which team would advance.
Tech’s losses both came in close matches as redshirt Smith fell 2-up to Johnny Travale, and Howe (Ogden, Utah) lost on the final hole to Julien Paltrinieri.
Other matches – Only one of the six matches between South Carolina and Stanford reached the 18th hole in the Gamecocks’ 4-2 victory over Stanford. On the other side of the bracket, Georgia downed Florida State, 4-2, with all four of its victories ending shy of the final hole. Clemson and host Ohio State tied their first-round match, 3-3, but the Tigers advanced on a tiebreaker.
COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAID – “Ty was clutch this morning by rallying to win his match, and Andy’s half was big for us. Match play is a lot different than stroke play and all the matches were tight for us this morning. They’re tight in this match (vs. South Carolina). Unfortunately they had us in foursomes for the morning matches, and they took much longer than they had hoped. We played twosomes this afternoon and it went faster, but we weren’t able to finish. Hopefully we come back in the morning and finish this match well.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Jack Nicklaus Invitational comprises two days of match play between eight of the top college golf teams in the nation at Muirfield Village Golf Club (7,221 yards, par 72), the site of the annual PGA Tour Memorial Tournament. The field includes host Ohio State, No. 13 Clemson, Florida State, No. 10 Georgia, No. 4 Georgia Tech, Kent State, No. 22 South Carolina and No. 20 Stanford.
The eight teams were paired in a match play bracket with the first round set for 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, the semifinal rounds beginning at 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon and the final round Tuesday morning. Each team was scheduled to play three matches, with the first-round losers working through a consolation bracket. Each team has six players competing in singles matches against their counterparts, with each individual match victory counting one point for their team.
The team that accumulates 3.5 points or more wins the match. If the overall team match is tied at 3-3, the games committee will break the tie. It will not be settled on the course.