Pullman, Wash. – Freshman Connor Howe shot a 4-under-par 66 as four Yellow Jackets matched or broke par Monday, leading No. 8 Georgia Tech into third place after the opening round of the NCAA Pullman (Wash.) Regional at Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
The Yellow Jackets sit two strokes off the lead, and more importantly, four ahead of sixth place with round 2 set for Tuesday. Tech will be paired with leader Texas A&M and second-place Oklahoma when play begins at 7:30 a.m. local time.
TECH LINEUP – Deftly negotiating shifting breezes and the changes in elevation at the 7,232-yard, par-70 Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Howe, junior Andy Ogletree (67, -3) and sophomore Noah Norton (68, -2) all broke par Monday, while junior Luke Schniederjans match par with a 70. Junior Tyler Strafaci (72, +2) did not count for the Jackets on Monday.
Howe, who grew up in Ogden, Utah and played golf courses with similar terrain and features, was 5-under-par over his first 15 holes before coming home bogey-birdie-bogey for his 66, and is tied for seventh place. Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) overcame a double-bogey at the ninth hole and played the back nine in 4-under-par, bogey-free, for his 67. He is in a large group of players tied for ninth place. Norton (Chico, Calif.) parlayed a birdie-eagle combo on the front nine and birdies on the finishing holes of each nine in fashioning his 68, tied for 19th place. Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) had four birdies and four bogeys in his round of 70.
Tech, No. 2 in the nation in par-4 scoring (4.01), played those holes 5-under-par Monday while the Oklahoma was 11-under-par and Texas A&M was 10-under. But the Jackets made up some of that ground on their closest competitors on the par-3 holes, and is third in the field with 21 total birdies.
— Georgia Tech Golf (@GTGolf) May 13, 2019
TEAM LEADERBOARD – The top 10 teams in the strong field are within 10 strokes of each other. No. 20 Texas A&M absorbed a double-bogey at the last hole but benefitted from Chandler Phillips’ 64 and three other subpar scored in posting a 269 (-11), one shot ahead of No. 5 and top-seed Oklahoma (270, -10), whose five players all broke par, led by Garett Reband’s 64.
Tech is alone in third place at 271 (-9), while Brigham Young (272, -8) rode a 64 from Carson Lundell to grab fourth place, and Michigan State holds fifth at 273 (-7) after the top Spartan, Donnie Trosper, shot a 65.
No. 17 South Carolina, No. 29 UCLA, No. 44 Florida and Purdue each shot 275 (-5) and are tied for sixth place. Kent State (276, -4) and Colorado State (279, -1) also finished under par for the round. The top five finishers after 54 holes will advance to the NCAA Championship finals.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Birdies were available in large numbers Monday with Texas A&M’s Phillips, Oklahoma’s Reband BYU’s Lundell each leading the way with a 6-under-par 64. Nearly half the 75-player field – 36 players – broke par at Palouse Ridge.
Michigan State’s Trosper is one of three players who shot 5-under-par 65, tied for fourth place, while Tech’s Howe and Northern Colorado’s Coby Welch are tied for seventh place at 66. Tech’s Ogletree is one of 10 players to shoot 67 Monday, while Norton is in a group of four golfers at 68. Fifteen more players carded 69s (-1).
Head coach Bruce Heppler sizes up the Jackets’ 9-under-par 271 (third place) Monday, with three individuals in the top 10, and what to expect In Tuesday’s round 2. #NCAAgolf pic.twitter.com/I5wPvWepDx
— Georgia Tech Golf (@GTGolf) May 13, 2019
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The NCAA Pullman Regional includes eight teams that are ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation according to Golfstat. In order of seed, the field includes Oklahoma (5), Georgia Tech (8), South Carolina (17), Texas A&M (20), UCLA (29), Brigham Young (30), Colorado State (41), Florida (44), Michigan State (53), Purdue (66) and automatic qualifiers Kent State (Mid-American Conference), Northern Colorado (Big Sky Conference), Wright State (Horizon League) and Iona (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).
Palouse Ridge Golf Club measures 7,232 yards and plays to a par of 70 for the Pullman Regional. It is located at the Eastern edge of the Washington State University campus and opened in 2008. Round 2 begins at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time (7:30 a.m. local time) Tuesday, with the final round set for the same time Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets are paired Tuesday with Texas A&M and Oklahoma.
The top five finishers after the completion of 54 holes Wednesday will advance to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, which will be contested May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
TEAM UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 22nd straight year and for the 29th time in the 31 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.
Tech is playing in an NCAA regional on the West Coast for the fourth time in the last five years, having played in San Diego, Calif. (2015), Tucson, Ariz. (2016) and Stanford, Calif. (2017) before playing last year in Raleigh, N.C. The Yellow Jackets look to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2015, having come down to the final hole and failing to qualify by one stroke each of the past two years.