THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team, preseason ranked No. 4 in the Bushnell/Golfweek coaches poll, opens its 2023 fall schedule Friday at the Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. The tournament kicks off a five-event fall slate that will take the Yellow Jackets to Illinois, Texas and California, with the other two events in the Atlanta area.
After guiding the Yellow Jackets to the program’s 19th Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship, head coach Bruce Heppler welcomes back three starters for his 29th season on The Flats, including seniors Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and sophomore Hiroshi Tai (Singapore), each of whom are ranked among the world’s top 50 amateur players.
Lamprecht, a first-team All-American in 2023, won The Amateur Championship and was low amateur at The Open Championship over the summer and enters the fall No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 2 in the PGA Tour University rankings. Forrester, an All-ACC performer in 2022 with two collegiate victories, is No. 44 in the WAGR and No. 38 in PGA Tour U. Tai, who won two tournaments as a freshman and was the individual runner-up at the ACC Championship, is No. 69 in the WAGR.
Christo Lamprecht enters the fall ranked No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and in PGA Tour University. (photo by Eldon Linsday)
ROSTER OUTLOOK – Georgia Tech lost two seniors from its national runner-up squad in All-American Ross Steelman, who is now on the Korn Ferry Tour, and Connor Howe, now on PGA Tour Canada, but Lamprecht, Forrester and Tai bring back a combined five career tournament victories and 28 top-10 finishes.
Competition for spots in the lineup comes from five other returnees in seniors Adam Bratton (Newburgh, Ind.), Aidan Kramer (Oviedo, Fla.) and Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.), as well as junior Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands) and sophomore Aidan Tran (Fresno, Calif.). They have combined to compete in 38 collegiate events in their careers, while Kramer and Mao both have summer amateur victories under the belts.
Heppler added a pair of freshmen to the mix in Kale Fontenot (Lafayette, La.) and Carson Kim (Yorba Linda, Calif.), both of whom ranked among the top 15 junior golfers in the class of 2023.
TECH LINEUP – Forrester, who won the 2022 Calusa Cup and the 2020 Puerto Rico Classic as well as the 2022 Monroe Invitational, won both halves of Georgia Tech’s 108-hole qualifying tournament, which was split between The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, and the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta. A fifth-year senior, Forrester has 100 stroke play rounds under his belt and a 71.82 stroke average for his career.
Lamprecht, who won the Inverness Intercollegiate last fall while adding three runner-up finishes and a third-place showing, is right behind with 99 stroke play rounds and is challenging the Tech career stroke average mark at 70.33.
Both of Tech’s incoming freshmen, Fontenot and Kim, qualified to make the lineup for the Yellow Jackets’ opening event. Kim was a consensus top-10 junior prospect and a first-team Rolex All-American, while Fontenot ranked as high as No. 14 in the Junior Golf Scoreboard and won the Louisiana State Junior Amateur three straight years.
Kramer, who has five collegiate events on his resume and won the 2022 Rice Planters Amateur, rounds out the starting five at Olympia Fields.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Yellow Jackets are competing in the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational for the second time, having shared the 2019 title with Baylor. Illinois hosts the 15-team event, which will be contested over 54 holes beginning Friday and concluding Sunday at Olympia Fields Country Club’s North course, which plays to a par-70 and measures 7,310 yards.
Tee times begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time Friday and Saturday, with the final round at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Participating teams include Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Purdue, Stanford and Texas. Fourteen of the 15 teams are ranked or received votes in the first Golf Coaches Association of America poll. All 15 competed in 2023 NCAA regionals, 11 of the 15 advanced to the NCAA Championship, and seven of those reached match play (quarterfinalists Arizona State, Illinois, and Pepperdine; semifinalists Florida State and North Carolina; and finalists Florida and Georgia Tech).
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 Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 29th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, having won 72 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 33 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up five 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.