May 21, 2014
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech has advanced to the NCAA Championship finals for the 27th time in program history, for the 26th time since 1985 and for the 15th time under head coach Bruce Heppler.
Thirty teams – the top five finishers from each of the six regional tournaments held last weekend – and six individuals will begin three rounds of stroke play at 8 a.m. Eastern time Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The top eight teams after 54 holes advancing to the match play portion of the championship beginning Tuesday, May 27. The top 40 individuals following 54 holes will play a fourth 18-hole round Monday, May 26, to determine the individual national champion.
Tech, ranked fourth nationally in the Golfstat rankings and No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, opens competition in the championship in the afternoon wave Friday at Prairie Dunes Country Club (6,948 yards, par 70) in Hutchinson, Kan., as the No. 4 seed and is paired with 5th-seed California and 6th-seed Georgia for the first two rounds. Pairings and tee times for Friday and Saturday are set by seed, and pairings for the third round of stroke play Sunday will be set by team score.
Quarter-final and semi-final matches will take place Tuesday, May 27, with the two survivors squaring off in the championship match Wednesday, May 28, at 2 p.m. The Golf Channel will provide live television coverage of the final round of stroke play on Monday, and the conclusion of the semi-final matches Tuesday and the championship match Wednesday.
The Yellow Jackets advanced out of the NCAA Raleigh Regional along with Washington, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Florida State. Other regional champions were top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama (Auburn, Ala.), No. 6 Georgia (San Antonio), No. 9 Illinois (Sugar Grove, Ill), No. 2 Oklahoma State (Columbia, Mo.) and No. 3 Stanford (Eugene, Ore.). Of the top 25 teams in the nation according to Golfstat, 23 are in the field this weekend, and the other seven are all in the top 50.
In the six years that the NCAA has utilized the current stroke-play to match-play format, Georgia Tech has advanced to match play three times and lost to the eventual national champion on each occasion, last year against Alabama.
This weekend, Tech brings its most accomplished team since 2001-02 (six team victories, seven individual titles) and its most experienced group ever with three seniors (two of them fifth-year seniors) and two juniors.
Tech Takes 17-Shot Win in Raleigh Regional
Georgia Tech opened a 10-shot lead after round 1, 16 shots after round 2 and captured a 17-shot, wire-to-wire win over Washington at the NCAA Raleigh Regional last weekend at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course.
In winning its the fifth NCAA regional title in its history (1991, 1998, 1999, 2002 previously), Tech set program bests in a regional for 54-hole score (825), widest margin of victory (17 strokes) and best single-round score (16-under 268 in the opening round). Tech’s 27-under-par total missed by two the mark for low score in relation to par.
After beginning the final round 16 shots ahead of No. 8 Washington, the Yellow Jackets finished 54 holes at 27-under-par 825 and added a shot to their lead over the Huskies, who posted a 2-over 286 for the round and finished at 10-under-par 842. No. 20 Texas A&M (849, -3), Kentucky (856, +4) and No. 17 Florida State (860, +8) finished third, fourth and fifth and joined Tech and Washington in qualifying for the NCAA Championship finals.
It was a complete performance for the Yellow Jackets, who placed all five individuals in the top 15 and four of those in the top eight.
Yellow Jackets Riding Momentum
Georgia Tech comes into the NCAA regional riding victories in its last four stroke-play events, the Valspar Invitational at Palm City, Fla., in mid-March, the Robert Kepler Invitational in Columbus, Ohio in early April, the ACC Championship in late April and last weekend’s NCAA Raleigh Regional. The Yellow Jackets also captured the inaugural Capital City Club Match Play Championship on April 19, 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 three of the 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. He finished second at the NCAA regional in Raleigh.
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. At last weekend’s NCAA regional, all five players finished in the top 15, while Schniederjans, Reeves, Albertson and Andrews were among the top eight.
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.
Tech’s NCAA Championship History
Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 26 times since 1985, a number surpassed by only three schools in that period, and has posted eight top-8 finishes in the last 12 tries. The Yellow Jackets tied for 10th in 2009, the first-year of the 54-hole stroke-play/match-play format, but qualified for match play each of the last three times they have advanced to the NCAA Championship (third in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013). Tech did not advance out of its regional in 2012.
Tech has lost to the eventual champion in each of its forays into 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), more than any team in the history of the championship except Houston, Michigan, Texas and Wake Forest, who also have four, and Oklahoma State, which has five.
In 1993 and 2002, the Yellow Jackets led after 54 holes, but finished second by one shot to Florida in 1993, and by four shots to Minnesota in 2002.
In 2000, the Yellow Jackets rallied to tie Oklahoma State after 72 holes, but lost to the Cowboys on the first hole of a playoff. Tech and OSU matched the lowest 72-hole team score in NCAA Championship history (36-under-par 1,116) at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala. In 2005, Tech finished 11 shots behind Georgia, and seven shots ahead of third-place Washington.
Georgia Tech’s victory at the NCAA Raleigh Regional last weekend was the 78th tournament win in program history and 43rd for the team under head coach Bruce Heppler.
Georgia Tech’s lineup for the NCAA Championship includes (in the order they finished in the NCAA Raleigh Regional) Ollie Schniederjans, Seth Reeves, Bo Andrews, Anders Albertson, 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 19 NCAA regional and finals starts.
Tech’s five players collectively have played 522 career rounds in 202 events, have 10 victories, 32 top-5 finishes and 59 top-10s.
Four of the five have more than 100 career rounds, while Seth Reeves has played 92.
Four of Tech’s five players have at least one collegiate victory, while the exception, Richard Werenski, has won the Porter Cup.
According to the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, Georgia Tech has faced the ninth-most difficult schedule in Division I — Tech is 34-15-3 vs. the nation’s top 25 teams, 67-20-3 vs. the top 50, 105-20-3 vs. the top 100.
Tech has a collective head-to-head record of 41-14-4 vs. the NCAA Championship field (see breakdown vs. all opponents on page 8).
Schniederjans is currently ranked No. 4 in the Golfstat head-to-head and No. 3 Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Seth Reeves is No. 19 in the Sagarin ratings and No. 16 in the Golfstat rankings. Albertson has moved from the 140s to No. 70 in the Sagarin ratings following the NCAA regional, while Andrews has moved up to No. 100 after beginning the spring outside the top 200. Werenski has moved up to No. 128, close to his career high of 121 following the spring of 2012.
The Tech five have combined for seven victories this year (Schniederjans with five, Reeves with two), 19 top-5 finishes and 25 top-10 finishes.
Tech has finished either first or second in nine of its 11 stroke-play events this year. Tech finished seventh at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawai’i and 12th at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, both this spring, but have won four straight tournaments since then.
Tech’s six 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 was the runner-up to Minnesota in the NCAA Championship.