Georgia Tech’s golf team, which returns for of its five starters from last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship team, gets its fall schedule underway this weekend with the 30th Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Carpet Capital Collegiate is being played Friday through Sunday at The Farm Golf Club, a 7,178-yard, par 72 layout designed by Tom Fazio near Dalton, Ga. The Yellow Jackets have been the institutional host of this event since its inception in 1989, winning eight times, most recently last fall in a playoff over Alabama. The 15-team field for this year’s event includes NCAA Tournament teams Clemson and Virginia from the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina from the Southeastern Conference. Tech players have won medalist honors four of the last five years, including 2016 champion Luke Schniederjans.
Tech is paired with Alabama and Auburn beginning at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
TECH’S CARPET CAPITAL COLLEGIATE HISTORY – Georgia Tech has won the Carpet Capital Collegiate eight times in its 29-year history, most recently in 2017, the most of any participant. Clemson has won four times, Alabama three. Tech won the 2017 event in a playoff over Alabama. A Yellow Jacket has won medalist honors nine times, including four of the past five years (Luke Schniederjans in 2016, Jacob Joiner in 2015, Ollie Schniederjans in 2013 and 2014). Current PGA Tour pros Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, Troy Matteson and Bryce Molder also have claimed victory at The Farm, with Molder taking the title three consecutive times between 1998 and 1999, when the event moved from the spring to the fall schedule.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech made the field for the NCAA regionals last spring but failed to advance to the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year, and finished the spring No. 6 in the Golfstat rankings. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 6 in the Bushnell/Golfweek pre-season coaches’ poll.
Heppler’s 2018-19 squad features the return of four starters from last year’s ACC Champions, including a trio of All-Atlantic Coast Conference performers in Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) and Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.), both juniors, and sophomore Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), as well as junior Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), a two-year starter who has never missed a tournament. All four are in the lineup this weekend.
Senior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.), an All-ACC choice in 2017, returns after a redshirt year and earned a spot in the lineup this week via team qualifying, while redshirt freshman Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) will make his collegiate debut in the Carpet Capital Collegiate as an individual.
Competition for lineup spots will come from junior Anton Serafini (Lake Mary, Fla.) and redshirt freshman Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.), as well as incoming freshmen Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Fla.), Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) and Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.).
TECH LINEUP – Only Strafaci, who advanced to the match play bracket of the U.S. Amateur for the second straight year, was exempt from qualifying for this weekend’s opening event. Ranked No. 72 in the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking, Strafaci led the Yellow Jackets in stroke average last year and finished the spring No. 54 in the Golfstat national collegiate ranking.
Norton, who made the Golf Coaches Association national All-Freshmen team and ranked No. 57 nationally, and Ogletree, ranked No. 86, both qualified for the U.S. Amateur but did not reach match play. Schniederjans, who ranked No. 71 last spring, has two collegiate victories, including one at the Carpet Capital.
Clark, who has played in 30 events and 89 total rounds in his career, posted a pair of top-10 finishes and a 71.93 stroke average in 2016-17.
COACH BRUCE HEPPLER ON THE CARPET CAPITAL COLLEGIATE – “It’s hard to sustain something, but the same group that started the tournament are still running it. The community commitment is incredible. Even through the tough times in the carpet industry up there in 2007 and 2008, they fought through it when a lot of other tournaments went away. They put a lot of effort into it. We feel very welcome there.
“We were there Saturday, and they’ve put in four or five new tee boxes, and the course is going to play the way it did in 1995 when I got here. There are some holes that were very difficult then that became driver-wedge holes, and they’re back to being tough holes, 500-yard par-4s. It was once one of the hardest golf courses anyone played, so I’m excited about that.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is beginning its 24th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 53 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 17 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 28 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 (@GT_Golf). For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.