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Tech Golf Set for NCAA Columbus Regional

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech begins its quest for a 31st all-time trip to the NCAA Championship finals Monday at the NCAA Columbus Regional at the Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio. It is one of six regional qualifying tournaments being held around the country Monday through Wednesday to determine the 30-team field for the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship, which begins May 27 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The top five teams in each regional qualifier advance to the NCAA Championship. Tech is the No. 2 seed in Columbus, behind the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, Oklahoma State. The remainder of the 13 teams, in order of seed, are Arkansas (14), Clemson (23), East Tennessee State (31), host Ohio State (27), Duke (42), Northwestern (44), Florida Gulf Coast (51), San Francisco (61), Kentucky (65), Wright State (94) and Southern Illinois (152). East Tennessee State (Southern), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley) and Wright State (Horizon League) are automatic qualifiers after winning their conference tournaments.

The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 24th straight year and for the 31st time in the 33 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship (the NCAA Championship and regionals were not conducted in 2020 due to COVID-19).

Tech last played an NCAA regional in Columbus in 2008, where the Yellow Jackets finished 15th (in a 27-team field) and failed to advance to the NCAA Championship finals. The OSU course also has hosted three NCAA Championships, in 1987, 1995 and 2002. The Yellow Jackets were the runner-up team in 2002, where Troy Matteson was the individual champion. Tech also won the 2014 and 2015 Robert Kepler Invitational, a regular-season event, at the Scarlet Course.

Tech has advanced to the finals in six of the nine years, including each of the last two, finishing fourth in 2019 (Pullman, Wash.) and third last spring (Tallahassee, Fla.).

The top seeds in each regional are top-ranked Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., No. 2 Oklahoma State in Columbus, Ohio, No. 3 Vanderbilt in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., No. 4mArizona State in Stockton, Calif., No. 5 North Carolina in New Haven, Conn., and No. 6 Pepperdine in Bryan, Texas.

As the No. 2 seed, the Yellow Jackets will begin round 1 from the first tee from 7:30 to 8:14 a.m., paired with Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Teams and individuals will be re‐paired according to score after the first and second rounds.

Connor Howe joined Christo Lamprecht and Bartley Forrester on the All-ACC team. (photos by Ross Obley)

 

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION/FORMAT – Eighty-one teams and 45 individuals are competing for spots in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship finals in six regional qualifying tournaments. The top five teams and one individual from each regional will advance to the finals (30 teams and six individuals total), which will be conducted May 27-June 1 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Each regional is a 54-hole, stroke-play event, three of which have 13 teams and 10 individuals, the other three 14 teams and five individuals, competing. Tech is part of a regional field that includes 13 teams and 10 individuals.

The Columbus regional in which Tech will compete includes eight teams that are ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation according to Golfstat. Competition begins at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the OSU Golf Club’s Scarlet Course, which measures 7,422 yards and plays to a par of 72.

TEAM UPDATE – With four starters back from the 2021 squad that finished 15th at the NCAA Championship and adding two key contributors who have formed the core of the 2021-22 team, Georgia Tech has won four tournaments in 10 tournaments this year. 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. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.

At the ACC Championship two weeks ago, 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.

Tech owns a 26-20 mark head-to-head against the nation’s top 25 teams, according to Golfstat (28-19 according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index), and is 52-24-2 against teams in the top 50, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.

The Yellow Jackets rank among the nation’s top 12 in a number of statistical categories, according to Golfstat – No. 3 in stroke average (70.97) and first in first-round stroke average (70.70), No. 13 in last-round stroke average (71.44), No. 5 in par-4 scoring average (4.03), No. 2 in par-5 scoring average (4.63), No. 2 in aggregate comparison to par (-0.53) and No. 11 in total birdies (591) and No. 6 in average drop score (75.36).

Each of the Jackets except Reuter and Smith have at least two top-10 finishes this year, and three Tech players are listed among Golfstat’s top 90 players nationally. At No. 28, sophomore Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) holds the highest Golfstat ranking among the Yellow Jackets with six top-10 finishes this year following his tie for third at the ACC Championship. Junior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), ranked No. 85, captured a share of medalist honors at The Calusa Cup and has finished no lower than 22nd in Tech’s last five events this spring. Junior Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) has five top-10 finishes, three of them this spring, while junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) has a pair of top-10 finishes in 2021-22 and is ranked No. 87.

All five Tech starters at the ACC Championship have stroke averages of 71.79 or better, led by Lamprecht’s 69.73, and senior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.), the Jackets’ sixth man, averaged 72.19 over 21 rounds). Tech may also have one of the tallest teams in collegiate golf, with Lamprecht at 6-foot-8, Forrester and Steelman at 6-5 each, Reuter at 6-3, Howe at 6-2 and Smith at 6-1.

Jackets at the ACC Championship

TECH LINEUP – Christo Lamprecht, Bartley Forrester and Connor Howe have been a part of Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for all nine tournaments in 2021-22 and will lead the Yellow Jackets in the ACC Championship along with Ross Steelman and either Ben Smith or 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 eight tournaments. Smith and Reuter have essentially split manning the No. 5 spot for most of the events this year; Reuter will play No. 5 for Tech at the outset, with Smith ready as a substitute.

Bartley Forrester (Junior, Gainesville, Ga.) – Having the best year of his career to this point, posting four top-10 finishes and two other top-20s in 10 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 … 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. 85 in the Golfstat ranking and No. 69 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, the highest positions of his career … Holds a 10-19-3 head-to-head record against the nation’s top 20 players as ranked by Golfstat … His 70.60 stroke average over 30 rounds is second to Christo Lamprecht and the eighth-lowest in Tech history … No. 177 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, No. 171 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) – Two top-10 finishes this year, and five additional finishes in the top 20 in 10 events … Tied for 13th at The Calusa Cup and Watersound Invitational and 18th at the Southern Highlands Collegiate for his top finishes this spring … Tied for 37th at the ACC Championship strike play, won his semifinal match against Florida State’s Patrick McCann (5&3) … No. 3 on the team in stroke average at 70.97 across 30 rounds … Holds a 10-22 head-to-head record against the nation’s top 20 collegiate golfers as ranked by Golfstat … No. 49 in the PGA Tour University ranking, No. 87 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. 90 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 65 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 … Six top-10 finishes this year in 10 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 … 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 (69.73 over 30 rounds) on record in Tech golf history … Ranks No. 8 nationally in par-4 scoring (3.93), and 10th in first-round average (69.00), according to Golfstat … Currently Tech’s highest-ranked player in the nation – No. 28 by Golfstat and No. 25 the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Holds a 12-14-6 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. 62 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 46 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 22nd in ACC Championship stroke play (214, -2) for his top finish this spring … Won his 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. 334 in the Golfstat rankings and No. 261 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 71.79 over 24 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. 177 in European Golf Ranking.

Ben Smith (Senior, Novi, Mich.) – Ranks No. 59 in the PGA Tour University ranking, No. 265 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 five top-10 finishes in nine starts this year, including a sixth-place finish in ACC Championship stroke play (207, -9) … Halved his semifinal match in 19 holes (unfinished when Tech clinched third point in another match) and lost his finals match 1-up … Finished runner-up at the Watersound Invitational and tied for eighth place at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate in the spring … Missed The Goodwin due to a bout with mononucleosis … Fourth among the Jacket regulars in stroke average at 71.33 over 27 rounds … Tied for ninth place at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and was runner-up at the Hamptons Intercollegiate in the fall … Currently ranked No. 140 in Golfstat and No. 109 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Also No. 37 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 49 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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