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Tech Golf Begins Quest for NCAA Championship

Scottsdale, Ariz. – Georgia Tech, seeded No. 10 and fresh off a victory at the Columbus Regional last week, is set to begin competition in the NCAA Championship finals for the 31st time in program history, looking for the program’s first national championship, when the Yellow Jackets tee off Friday morning at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Head coach Bruce Heppler’s 27th Tech team returns three starters from a team that finished 15th in last year’s NCAA Championship, the first of three straight years the championship will be held in Scottsdale. The Yellow Jackets won twice in the fall and entered the spring ranked No. 20, adding three more tournament wins this spring to rise to No. 11 in the Golfstat rankings and No. 10 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Since the NCAA added match play to the format to determine its champion in 2009, the Yellow Jackets have advanced to match play four times and looks to return for the first time since 2014.

The Yellow Jackets bring three All-ACC performers – sophomore Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa), junior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) – to Arizona along with transfer Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) who is ranked among the nation’s top 100 players and has six top-10 finishes, and rapidly improving freshman Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands).

Tech tees off at 3:47 p.m. Eastern time Friday afternoon (hole No. 1) and 10:27 a.m. Saturday morning (10th hole), paired with No. 11 seed Texas A&M and No. 12 seed Stanford for the first two rounds. Tee times and pairings for the remaining rounds of stroke play will be determined by team position on the leaderboard. Thirty teams will play 54 holes Friday through Sunday, with the field cut to 15 for the final round of stroke play Monday, after which the individual champion will be crowned. The top eight teams after 72 holes will advance to a match play bracket to determine the team champion on Wednesday.

Oklahoma, the nation’s top-ranked team and champion of the Norman Regional on its home course last week, is the top seed at the NCAA Championship, followed by Oklahoma State, with whom Tech shared the Columbus (Ohio) Regional title. Vanderbilt, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Regional champion, is the third seed, followed by Arizona State, winner of the Stockton (Calif.) Regional, North Carolina, runner-up at the New Haven (Conn.) Regional, Pepperdine, runner-up at the Bryan (Texas) Regional, Texas, who finished fourth in Norman, Texas Tech, the third-place team in New Haven, and Florida, the third-place team in Palm Beach Gardens.

The other regional champions were No. 15 seed Wake Forest (New Haven) and No. 20 seed Arizona (Bryan).

HOW THE JACKETS GOT HERE – With four starters back from last year and adding two key contributors who have formed the core of the 2021-22 team, Georgia Tech has won five times in 11 tournaments this year, including a share of the title at the NCAA Columbus Regional a week ago. Tech won the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and the Hamptons Intercollegiate in the fall, and added titles in the Watersound Invitational and The Calusa Cup this spring, elevating the Yellow Jackets to No. 11 in the Golfstat rankings and to No. 10 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.

At the ACC Championship, Tech finished second in stroke play and advanced to the championship match, where they fell to Wake Forest, 3-2. The final and deciding individual match went to the 21st hole, where freshman Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands) lost to Alex Fitzpatrick.

Four Tech players are listed among the nation’s top 110 players according to the Golfstat. At No. 26, sophomore Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) holds the highest Golfstat ranking among the Yellow Jackets with six top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for third at the ACC Championship. Junior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), ranked No. 107, captured a share of medalist honors at The Calusa Cup and has four top-10 finishes. Junior Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) has six top-10s, four of them this spring, including a runner-up performance at the Columbus Regional, and is ranked No. 109. Junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), ranked No. 84, has three top-10s in 2021-22, including a tie for seventh at Columbus. Each of the Jackets in Arizona except sixth-man Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) have at least one top-10 finish this year, all but Reuter and Smith have at least three.

All five Tech starters at the NCAA Championship have stroke averages of 71.63 or better, led by Lamprecht’s 69.97, and Smith has averaged 72.19 over 21 rounds.

Tech owns a 28-21-1 mark head-to-head against the nation’s top 25 teams, according to Golfstat (28-19-1 according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index), and is 61-24-4 against teams in the top 50, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.

TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 30 times since 1985 (31 times in program history), which is tied for fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (36), Arizona State (34), Florida (33) and Texas (33), each of whom are in the field in Scottsdale. Tech has posted nine top-8 finishes in the last 15 tries.

The Yellow Jackets have qualified for match play four times since the advent of the stroke-play/match-play format in 2009, finishing third in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014. Coincidentally, Tech last advanced to match play (2014) the same year it last captured a regional title.

Tech lost to the eventual champion three times in its four appearances in match play – Augusta State by the score of 3-2 in the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011 and to Alabama (3-0-2) in 2013.

Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship four times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005, all before the introduction of match play). Only Oklahoma State, which has 18, Texas (6) and Purdue (5) have more.

Three Tech players have won national collegiate championships. Troy Matteson did it most recently in 2002 at Ohio State. Watts Gunn (1927) and Charlie Yates (1934) won national collegiate titles under a match play format before the NCAA took sponsorship of the championship in 1939.

CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION/FORMAT – Finals play consists of three days of stroke play on Friday, May 27 thru Sunday, May 31 (54 holes), after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team will be determined. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on Monday, May 30 to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play as well as the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by a match-play format that will consist of quarterfinals and semifinals conducted on Tuesday, May 31, followed by finals on Wednesday, June 1.

The entire championship is conducted on the Raptor course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., which measures 7,289 yards and plays to a par of 70. This is the second of three straight years that the Grayhawk will host the NCAA Championship.

  • Friday, May 27 – First round of stroke play competition (Tech begins at 3:47 p.m. ET)
  • Saturday, May 28 – Second round of stroke play competition (Tech begins at 10:27 a.m. ET)
  • Sunday, May 29 – Third round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 36-hole scores)
  • Monday, May 30 – Final round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 54-hole scores)
  • Tuesday, May 31 – Quarterfinals and semifinals of team match play
  • Wednesday, June 1 – Championship match to determine team champion

 TELEVISION – Golf Channel will air live coverage of the final round of stroke play Monday, May 30 (5-9 p.m. Eastern time), the team quarterfinals (12-3:30 p.m. ET) and semifinals (5-9 p.m. ET) on Tuesday May 31, and the team championship match Wednesday, June 1 (5-9 p.m. ET). Encore presentations will be aired at 10 p.m. each day.

Ross Steelman was the individual runner-up at the NCAA Columbus Regional. (photos by Ricky Bassman)

 

TECH LINEUP – Christo Lamprecht, Bartley Forrester and Connor Howe have been a part of Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for all 11 tournaments in 2021-22 and will lead the Yellow Jackets in the NCAA Championship along with Ross Steelman and Benjamin Reuter. Steelman missed one event, The Goodwin in late March, due to mononucleosis, but has been a part of the starting five for each of the other 10 tournaments. Reuter and Smith split manning the No. 5 spot for most of the events this year before claiming it for the two post-season events.

Bartley Forrester (Junior, Gainesville, Ga.) – All-ACC performer having the best year of his career to this point, posting four top-10 finishes and two other top-20s in 11 events … Tied for 22nd (214, -2) in ACC Championship stroke play, and won his individual match over Wake Forest’s Scotty Kennon in the championship match … Tied for 40th at the Columbus Regional (219, +6) … Captured his second collegiate win at The Calusa Cup, earning co-medalist honors (211, -5) … Three events prior to that included a tie for 15th at The Goodwin (205, -5), tie for 18th at the Southern Highlands Collegiate (211, -5) and a tie for fourth at the Watersound Invitational (212, -4) … In the fall, tied for sixth place at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate competing as an individual (63 in the final round) and seventh at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … No. 107 in the Golfstat ranking and No. 78 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, the highest positions of his career … Holds a 10-16-2 head-to-head record against the nation’s top 20 players as ranked by Golfstat … His 70.82 stroke average over 33 rounds is second to Christo Lamprecht and the 11th-lowest in Tech history … No. 178 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, No. 186 in the Scratch Players Amateur Ranking, rising more than 100 spots over the course of the spring … Qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur and posted a T-20 at the Monroe Invitational last summer … Co-medalist the 2020 Puerto Rico Classic … His uncle, Carlton Forrester, played at Tech from 1996-2000, had one collegiate title and earned All-ACC honors in 1999.

Connor Howe (Junior, Ogden, Utah) – All-ACC selection who has three top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for seventh at the NCAA Columbus Regional (212, -1), and five additional finishes in the top 20 in 11 events … Tied for 13th at The Calusa Cup and Watersound Invitational and 18th at the Southern Highlands Collegiate … Tied for 37th at the ACC Championship stroke play, won his semifinal match against Florida State’s Patrick McCann (5&3) … No. 3 on the team in stroke average at 70.94 across 33 rounds, and one of the nation’s best players on par-5 holes (11th at 4.53) … Holds a 10-18 head-to-head record against the nation’s top 20 collegiate golfers as ranked by Golfstat … No. 45 in the PGA Tour University ranking, No. 84 by Golfstat and No. 92 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, the highest rankings of his career … Tied for 7th at the Windon Memorial Classic and the Hamptons Intercollegiate, and tied for 19th at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in the fall … Won the Patriot All-America Amateur tournament in December … T-5 at the Southern Amateur, T-7 at the Monroe Invitational and T-11 at the Dogwood Invitational last summer … No. 89 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 59 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

Christo Lamprecht (Sophomore, George, South Africa) – Believed to be the tallest player ever in Tech program at 6-foot-8 … Made the All-ACC team on the strength of six top-10 finishes this year in 11 events, including a tie for third in ACC Championship stroke play (205, -11) … Won both of his individual matches, 1-up over FSU’s Michael Sakane and 5&4 over Wake Forest’s Mark Power … Tied for 29th at the NCAA Columbus Regional (217, +4) … Also tied for fourth at The Calusa Cup (214, -2), eighth (203, -7) at The Goodwin and second at the Southern Highlands Collegiate (205, -11) in the three events prior … Tied for 42nd at Tech’s spring opener (Amer Ari Intercollegiate) and 23rd at the Watersound Invitational … Carrying the third-lowest scoring average for a season (69.97 over 33 rounds) on record in Tech golf history … Ranks No. 11 nationally in par-4 scoring (3.95), according to Golfstat … Currently Tech’s highest-ranked player in the nation – No. 35 by Golfstat and No. 26 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Holds a 12-12-4 head-to-head record against the nation’s top 20 collegiate golfers as ranked by Golfstat … In the fall, was runner-up at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate with a program-record 54-hole score of 194 (-16), tied for 10th at the Windon Memorial and 14th at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … No. 63 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 52 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking … Named to compete with the International team in the 2022 Arnold Palmer Cup.

Benjamin Reuter (Freshman, Naarden, The Netherlands) – Tied for fourth at the NCAA Columbus Regional (211, -2) and tied for 22nd in ACC Championship stroke play (214, -2) for his top finishes this spring … Won his ACC semifinal individual match over Florida State’s Brett Roberts (1-up) and pushed Wake forest’s Alex Fitzpatrick to 21 holes before losing the deciding match in the finals … Tied for 30th in Tech’s spring opener in Hawai’i and 34th at the Watersound Invitational … No. 262 in the Golfstat rankings and No. 200 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Played three times in the fall, earning his best finish with a tie for 13th at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate … Also tied for 21st at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … Stroke average is 71.63 over 27 rounds … Won the Dutch National Championship and reached match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur last summer … Ranked No. 203 in World Amateur Golf Ranking, No. 382 in the Scratch Players Amateur Ranking, No. 178 in the European Amateur Ranking.

Ben Smith (Senior, Novi, Mich.) – Has been Tech’s sixth man for the ACC Championship and NCAA regional … Ranks No. 60 in the PGA Tour University ranking, No. 264 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, No. 324 in the Scratch Players Amateur Ranking … Played three times this spring, tying for 11th (218, +2) most recently against a stacked field to help Tech win The Calusa Cup … Tied for 40th in a large field at The Goodwin (210, even) … Started well at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate (71-71 competing as an individual), but fell back in the final round … Posted a high finish last fall of T-21 at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … Has compiled a 72.19 stroke average over a career-high 21 rounds … Ranked No. 379 by Golfstat and No. 327 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … T-8 at Monroe Invitational, T-10 at Northeast Amateur last summer … Tied for eighth at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional, and tied for ninth at the Calusa Cup last spring.

Ross Steelman (Junior, Columbia, Mo.) – Has six top-10 finishes in nine starts this year, including a runner-up finish at the NCAA Columbus Regional (206, -7) and a solo sixth-place finish in ACC Championship stroke play (207, -9) … Halved his ACC semifinal match vs. Florida State in 19 holes (unfinished when Tech clinched third point in another match) and lost his finals match 1-up to Wake Forest’s Michael Brennan … Finished runner-up at the Watersound Invitational and tied for eighth place at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate earlier in the spring … Missed The Goodwin due to a bout with mononucleosis … Fourth among the Jacket regulars in stroke average at 71.70 over 33 rounds … Tied for ninth place at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and was runner-up at the Hamptons Intercollegiate in the fall … Currently ranked No. 109 in Golfstat and No. 88 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Also No. 37 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 36 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking … Second-team All-Southeastern Conference last spring, ranked No. 28 national ranking in Golfstat … Tied for third at the 2021 NCAA Noblesville Regional, has two victories in his collegiate career … Reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur last summer, along with a T-3 at the Monroe Invitational, T-11 at the Northeast Amateur.

Alexander-Tharpe Fund

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 27th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 68 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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