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Jackets Go West for Southwestern Invitational

THE FLATS – After playing its first tournament in nearly 10 months last weekend, Georgia Tech’s golf team travels to the West Coast this week to compete in its second event within a 10-day period, facing a heavyweight field in the Southwestern Invitational Monday through Wednesday in Westlake Village, Calif.

With last spring’s schedule cut short and fall events cancelled due to COVID-19, the Jackets were left to compete in various amateur events throughout the summer and fall. Head coach Bruce Heppler moved to add two events to the front end of Tech’s spring schedule, entering his team in the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational last week (Tech finished seventh out of 10 teams) and the Southwestern Invitational. The Yellow Jackets’ slate includes seven events prior to the ACC Championship near the end of April, which will be played at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Woodstock, Ga.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Taking place at North Ranch Country Club (6,992 yard, par 72) in Westlake Village, Calif., and hosted by Pepperdine University, the competition will feature a 54-hole stroke play team and individual championship, with live coverage airing on Golf Channel across all three days. First staged in 1978 as the Southwestern Intercollegiate, the event is one of seven college golf championships televised on GOLF Channel, which includes the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Division I Golf National Championships, taking place in May 2021 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Notable past winners (medalists) of the event include: Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Paul Casey, Corey Pavin, Billy Mayfair and Anthony Kim. Pepperdine’s Sahith Theegala won medalist honors at the 2020 event in January, his second individual Southwestern win (2017). In total, medalists over the years at the Southwestern Invitational account for nearly 120 PGA TOUR victories.

Twelve teams are scheduled to compete, including top-ranked Pepperdine, Arizona State (No. 10), Augusta, California, East Tennessee State, Georgia Tech (No. 20), Louisville, Saint Mary’s, San Diego State, San Jose State, SMU (No. 19) and Southern California.

The first groups will tee off at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time Monday and Tuesday, with the starting time for Wednesday’s final round to be determined. Golf Channel will televise competition live each day from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Senior Will Dickson was high finisher for the Yellow Jackets at the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational. (photo by Clyde Click)

 

"They have tried to get us to come in the past, and with all the classes we can take online and not have to miss them, we added this after the fall season was cancelled. We don’t get to be on TV very often, so hopefully we can play well enough to be on TV. It’s a good field, and our program has been based on trying to play all over the country and give our guys a national experience. I’m told the course is not overly long, the greens have a lot of slope in them, and they’re fast. It’s a much more think-your-way-around type of course based on some of the guys who have won."

Head coach Bruce Heppler

 

TEAM UPDATE – Head coach Bruce Heppler’s 26th Yellow Jacket team looks a lot different than the one that teed it up last March before the spring season was cut short by the pandemic. His heralded senior group of Andy Ogletree, Luke Schniederjans and Tyler Strafaci all graduated after leading the Yellow Jacket to 14 tournament victories, two ACC championships and three NCAA regional appearances during their careers. Ogletree, the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion, turned pro after earning low amateur honors at the Masters in November. Schniederjans also has turned pro, and Strafaci, the 2020 U.S. Amateur champion, will do the same after competing in the Walker Cup matches next May.

In their places are six players who have a total of 54 collegiate events – 160 rounds – under their collective belts. Tech’s two elder statesmen, senior Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.) and junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), own 118 of those 160 rounds between them.

Beyond that, the rest of Tech’s roster is quite green.

Freshman Christo Lamprecht will make his collegiate debut Monday at the Southwestern Invitational. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

TECH LINEUP – Tech’s lineup for the Southwestern Invitational includes, in order, senior Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.), sophomore Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.), Howe, freshman Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and Norton. Sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) will compete as an individual.

Dickson – After seeing action in just two events over his time at Tech, Dickson began to show promise last fall by finishing 13th or higher in all four amateur events he played, including a fourth-place effort in the Orlando International Amateur in December. He won the team’s 126-hole qualifying tournament for the Camp Creek Invitational by 11 strokes, then was Tech’s top finisher at Camp Creek with a tie for 15th place (215, -1).

Karaulic – In his third year in the program, Karaulic made his collegiate debut at the Camp Creek Invitational, earning a spot in team qualifying, and tied for 26th place as the Yellow Jackets’ No. 2 finisher (219, +3).

Howe – Tied for 34th (221, +5) at Camp Creek. He has competed in 15 events as the Jackets’ No. 4 or 5 player in his first two years on The Flats, won the Southeastern Amateur last summer as well as two other regional events near his home in Utah, and tied for ninth at the Patriot All-America in December.

Lamprecht – At 6-foot-8, he may be the tallest player ever in the Tech golf program. Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar were 6-foot-4. Current sophomore Bartley Forrester is 6-4. The top-rated member of Tech’s freshman class, he is South Africa’s No. 2-ranked amateur and a member of his country’s national team, and No. 138 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Norton – A California native who has been a two-time All-ACC honoree, he missed the Camp Creek Invitational due to a back injury. Though thumb and back injuries limited him to just 10 rounds in 2019-20, Norton advanced to match play (round of 32) at the U.S. Amateur and earned his way into two Korn Ferry Tour events, tying for eighth place at the Wichita Open.

Forrester – Only member of Tech’s current team to win a collegiate tournament, sharing medalist honors at the Puerto Rico Classic last February in his second career start. He had a solid summer in amateur competition, tying for seventh place at the Palmetto Amateur and 19th at the Southeastern Amateur. He tied for 46th at the Camp Creek Invitational.

*****

"There was not time for a full-blown qualifier to set our lineup. Christo Lamprecht finally arrived from South Africa and didn’t get to go to Arizona (for initial team qualifying). So we did a one-day, sudden death round at East Lake, and he was low man. Luka beat Connor and Bartley in a playoff. He was second in Florida and has made an impact. Noah is healthy and will get to go. Christo looks a little taller now than when we saw him in the recruiting process. He’s a successful international player, played on two Junior Presidents Cup teams representing the world. He’s won the South African Amateur. He was exempt to play in the U.S Amateur out at Bandon Dunes, but couldn’t travel there because of COVID. His strengths are his length, and he looks to be really good around the greens, which is a heck of a combination."

Head coach Bruce Heppler

 

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The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the A-T Fund’s Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes, and the Support The Swarm Fund, created to give fans an opportunity to help Georgia Tech athletics maintain its recent momentum through the financial challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic! To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF

Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 26th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 63 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 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 Ramblinwreck.com.

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