May 14, 2014
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team, ranked fifth in the nation in the Golfstat rankings and No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, opens its quest for an NCAA championship as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Raleigh (N.C.) Regional, which begins Thursday at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course (7,213 yards, par 71).
Tech is paired with Washington and Florida State for the first two rounds, teeing off the first hole at 8 a.m. Thursday and 9:10 a.m. Friday. Saturday pairings and tee times will be based on 36-hole scores.
The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 17th straight year and for the 24th time in the 26 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship. They are part of a regional field that includes 13 teams and 10 individuals.
The top five finishers at each of the six regional sites will advance to the championship site, May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The other five regional sites (with top seed in parentheses) are being held in Auburn, Ala. (Alabama), Columbia, Mo. (Oklahoma State), Eugene, Ore. (Stanford), San Antonio, Texas (Georgia), and Sugar Grove, Ill. (California).
The Raleigh Regional will play host to eight teams ranked among the nation’s top 50, including, in order of seed, No. 5 Tech (ACC champion), No. 8 Washington, No. 17 Florida State, No. 20 Texas A&M, No. 29 Mercer (Atlantic Sun Conference champion), No. 32 Kentucky, No. 41 Texas Tech and No. 45 Wake Forest. The rest of the Raleigh field includes South Alabama, Memphis, Minnesota (Big Ten champion), Rice (Conference USA champion) and Bethune-Cookman (MEAC champion).
The Yellow Jackets head into the post-season having won five times this year, including their last three spring stroke-play events – the Valspar Invitational at Floridian, the Robert Kepler Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, and the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. All five Tech competitors are ranked among the nation’s top 150 players by the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index – ACC individual champion Ollie Schniederjans (No. 3), Seth Reeves (23), Anders Albertson (74), Bo Andrews (127) and Richard Werenski (143).
No. 33 Clemson (Sugar Grove), No. 11 Virginia (Columbia) and No. 12 Virginia Tech (Auburn) also qualified out of the ACC.
Tech in NCAA Regional Competition
Georgia Tech has failed to advance through an NCAA regional only twice in 23 tries, and only once since the NCAA went to a six-regional qualifying format in 2009. Heppler’s teams have won three regional tournaments outright and tied for one title, most recently in 2002.
The NCAA began using regional qualifying tournaments in 1989, first with the 81 teams split among three sites (27 teams each), then with six sites with either 13 or 14 teams each beginning in 2009.
Since the NCAA went to six regional sites in 2009, Tech has finished third (Bowling Green, Ky.), third (Milton, Ga.), tied for third (Radford, Va.), sixth/did not advance (Norman, Okla.) and fourth (Tallahassee, Fla.).
Tech’s four victories all occurred in 27-team regionals in 1991 (New Haven, Conn.), 1998 (Daufuskie Island, S.C.), 1999 (Providence, R.I.) and 2002 (Roswell, Ga., tied with Clemson).
Yellow Jackets Riding Momentum
Georgia Tech comes into the NCAA regional riding victories in its last three stroke-play events, the Valspar Invitational at Palm City, Fla., in mid-March, the Robert Kepler Invitational in Columbus, Ohio in early April and the ACC Championship in late April. The Yellow Jackets also captured the inaugural Capital City Club Match Play Championship last Saturday, defeating 26th-ranked Auburn, 4-2, and No. 6 Georgia, 5-1.
Tech won the Valspar Invitational by eight shots over Oklahoma State and a field that included six top 25 teams, surged to an 18-stroke win in the Robert Kepler Invitational, and pulled away on the final day for a six-stroke win at the ACC Championship
Ollie Schniederjans won or shared medalist honors in all three events, posting a 12-under-par 201 at the Valspar, a 3-under 213 on the Ohio State University Scarlet Course in the Robert Kepler Invitational, and then a 12-under-par 204 at the Old North State Club in the ACC Championship.
Three Tech players (Schniederjans, Bo Andrews, Seth Reeves) finished in the top 20 at the Valspar, while all five players did so in the Kepler. At the ACC Championship, three (Schniederjans, Albertson, Reeves) were in the top 10 individually, and Andrews tied for 18th.
In the Capital City Club Match Play Championship, Schniederjans defeated top-ranked Joey Garber of Georgia, 2-up, after halving his match against Georgia. Anders Albertson and Richard Werenski won both of their matches for the Yellow Jackets in the event.
Georgia Tech’s team is seeing the Lonnie Poole Golf Course for the second time this year. The Jackets played a partial practice round there last fall when they were in the area to play the Tar Heel Intercollegiate. Tech also played the course in the 2010 Wolfpack Intercollegiate, finishing sixth out of 17 teams, Bo Andrews is the only current Tech player to have competed in that event, finishing T59 (+15).
Head-to-head vs, the field in Raleigh: Tech is 1-1 vs. Washington, 4-0 vs. Florida State, 3-0 vs. Texas A&M, 0-1 vs. Mercer, 2-0 vs. Texas Tech, 3-0 vs. Wake Forest. Tech has not faced any of the rest of the teams in Raleigh in 2013-14.
Georgia Tech’s lineup for the Raleigh Regional includes, in the order they finished in the ACC Championship, Ollie Schniederjans, Seth Reeves, Anders Albertson, Bo Andrews, Richard Werenski. That’s three seniors and two juniors, quite a contrast from last year’s unit at the championship (two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman) or 2012 (one senior, two sophomores, two freshmen).
Tech’s lineup for the regional has combined for 14 NCAA regional and finals starts.
Schniederjans is currently ranked No. 3 in the Golfstat head-to-head and No. 4 Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Seth Reeves is No. 23 in the Sagarin ratings and No. 22 in the Golfstat rankings. Werenski, Andrews and Albertson all fall between No. 100-150 in the two services, with the exception that Albertson is No. 74 in the Sagarin ratings.
Georgia Tech enters the weekend ranked No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index (behind Alabama) and No. 5 in the Golfstat rankings (behind Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford and California).
Tech’s five victories are the most for the program since the Yellow Jackets won seven times in 2001-02. Tech won the ACC Championship that year and recorded the most recent of its four NCAA runner-up finishes.