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Tech Knocks off Illinois in NCAA Golf Quarterfinals

Carlsbad, Calif. – Georgia Tech got match victories from Bartley Forrester, Aidan Tran and Hiroshi Tai Tuesday morning and upended top-seeded Illinois, 3-1, sending the Yellow Jackets into the semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship.

Tech take on No. 5 seed Florida State, a 3-1 winner over No. 4 North Carolina, at 4:15 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday afternoon. Golf Channel will provide live coverage beginning at 6 p.m.

The Fighting Illini, who won the team stroke-play title by 16 shots over 72 holes, remained hot in the early going of Tuesday’s contest, leading four of the five matches early and three of them at the turn. But Tech began to chip away.

Forrester delivered the Yellow Jackets’ first point, a 3&1 victory over Tyler Goecke in the lead match after falling behind two holes early. He rallied to take a 1-hole lead with a birdie at the par-3 8th, and the match went back and forth until the Tech senior from Gainesville, Ga., won three straight holes with pars at 15, 16 and 17. He is now 4-0 in NCAA match play.

Tran, who replaced All-American Christo Lamprecht in the Tech lineup for the last 54 holes of stroke play, delivered for the Yellow Jackets Tuesday with a 3&2 victory over Piercen Hunt. The sophomore from Fresno, Calif., never trailed in the penultimate match, taking the lead for good with a birdie at the 8th hole. He built his lead to three holes and closed out Hunt with a par and a half at the 16th hole.

It was left for NCAA individual champion Tai, to clinch the contest for Tech in the anchor match. The sophomore from Singapore battled back to knot the match with a birdie at the 10th. He won 12, 13 and 14, all par 4s, in succession to lead by three, then closed out the match at 16 when his tee shot hit the flag and settle less than three feet from the cup.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said head coach Bruce Heppler. “We played the back nine (well). We have played the front really well and (Illinois) made some birdies to put us behind. But we played the back better, especially the 12th hole (a par 3). We won three or four holes there and got us back into it. We hit some great shots coming in. Hiroshi’s iron play has been phenomenal, and Aidan Tran played great.”

Recap of Tech semifinal win over Illinois

In the other two matches, freshman Carson Kim (Yorba Linda, Calif.) fell to Max Herendeen, 5&4. Freshman Kale Fontenot (Lafayette, La.) nearly erased a four-hole deficit, rallying to within a single hole playing 18, but the match went unfinished after Tai scored the clinching point.

On the other side of the bracket, 6th-seeded Auburn defeated No. 3 seed Virginia, 3-1, to advance to the semifinals against No. 7 Ohio State, who upset No. 2 Vanderbilt, 3-1. All four lower seeds won on Tuesday morning for the first time ever in the NCAA Championship.

NOTES – Tech is now 4-5 all-time in six NCAA match play appearances, having advanced past the quarterfinals in three of the six … Bartley Forrester improved to 4-0 personally, having won all three of his matches in the 2023 NCAA Championship … Hiroshi Tai evened his career match play record at 2-2 … Tech lost to Florida State, 3-0, in the ACC Championship semifinals in April, and are 1-1 all-time against the Seminoles in post-season match play.

 

Quarterfinal Match Photos by Tim Cowie

TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

Only Oklahoma State (9 times), Texas (7) and Vanderbilt (7) have advanced to NCAA match play more than the Yellow Jackets’ six appearances. Tech is one of only three teams to make the 54-hole cut in each of the last four NCAA Championships (North Carolina and Vanderbilt are the others), and last year advanced to match play where the Yellow Jackets defeated Pepperdine and North Carolina before losing to Florida in the championship match.

The Yellow Jackets finished third in stroke play in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014 and tied for fifth in 2023 before this year’s eighth-place finish.

Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 32 times since 1985 (33 times in program history), which is the fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (37), Arizona State (35), Florida (35) and Texas (35).

Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship five times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005 before the introduction of match play, and again in 2023). Only Oklahoma State, which has 18, and Texas (6) have more.

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of the development of Yellow Jackets that thrive academically at the Institute and 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. Heppler is the 10th-longest-tenured head coach in Division I men’s golf. 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.

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