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Tech, Steelman Lead at NCAA Championship

Scottsdale, Ariz. – Ross Steelman fired a bogey-free, 6-under-par 64 Friday, carrying 11th-ranked Georgia Tech to an even-par round of 280 and a spot at the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club. Steelman has a two-stroke lead in the race for medalist honors.

Tech’s even-par score of 280 Friday was its best in nine NCAA Championship rounds it has played at Grayhawk the last three years, and was one stroke better than any of the other 29 teams Friday. The total held up through the afternoon wave when the top six seeds competed. No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 28 Arkansas came the closest by posting 1-over-par rounds of 281. No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 5 and No. 5 Texas Tech are tied for fourth at 2-over-par 282.

Tech tees off at 2:52 p.m. Saturday morning (10th hole), again paired with No. 10 seed Oklahoma, who finished second at the Norman Regional) and No. 12 seed Auburn (winner of the Auburn regional). Tee times and pairings for the remaining rounds of stroke play will be determined by team position on the leaderboard. Thirty teams are playing 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.

Highlights from Ross Steelman's round

TECH LINEUP – Steelman posted only the third subpar round by a Tech golfer in 45 NCAA Championship rounds at Grayhawk, and beat the previous best of 68 in the final round of the 2022 championship by Bartley Forrester. Christo Lamprecht’s opening 69 in 2021 is the other.

The senior from Columbia, Mo., started out with three birdies in his first four holes and then birdied three of his final six, and seldom was in danger of making bogey. His round stood up the rest of the day after Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira of Arkansas, Matthew Watkins of New Mexico and Cole Sherwood of Vanderbilt each posted 66. It was the best opening round of an NCAA Championship at Grayhawk and the second-best in any round.

Showing the difference a year can make, Steelman birdied six holes Friday, three more than he recorded over 72 holes in the 2022 NCAA Championship, in which he started his opening round 6-over-par over his first six holes. His best round at last year’s championship was a 76.

Tech also counted a 1-over-par 71 from senior Bartley Forrester, who was Tech’s top finisher (tied for 15th) in last year’s NCAA Championship at Grayhawk, a 2-over 72 from Connor Howe and a 3-over 73 from junior Christo Lamprecht on Friday. Freshman Hiroshi Tai shot 76 (+6).

Ross Steelman talks about his round and Tech's recent surge

TEAM LEADERBOARD – The Yellow Jackets, the 11th seed, posted their 280 score in the morning wave and watched for the next five hours to see if it would stand up as the 15 teams in the afternoon wave played their opening rounds. It did by one stroke as No. 8-seed Pepperdine and No. 28 Arkansas finished at 1-over-par 282.

Top-seeded Vanderbilt, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 5 Texas Tech posted 2-over-par rounds of 282 and are tied for fourth place, while No. 9 Florida is alone in seventh place at 3-over-par 283.

Florida State (+4), Georgia (+5), Illinois (+5), San Francisco (+5), Oklahoma (+7), Ohio State (+7), Auburn (+8), Texas A&M (+9) and Brigham Young (+9) fill out the top 15 teams on the leaderboard.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Tech’s Steelman, who has finished no worse than 12th in any stroke-play event for the Yellow Jackets this spring and earned the clinching point in both of Tech’s ACC Championship matches, earned a two-stroke lead with his 66 over Arkansas’ Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira, New Mexico’s Matthew Watkins and Vanderbilt’s Cole Sherwood, each of who carded 4-under-par 66.

The Razorbacks’ Wil Gibson shot 5-under-par 67 and holds fifth place by himself, with seven golfers tied at 4-under-par 68s, led by sixth-ranked Adrien Dumont de Chassart of Illinois. No. 2 Ludvig Aberg of Texas Tech is among a group of five tied at 1-under-par 69.

NCAA Championship Round 1

Photos by Tim Cowie/Todd Drexler

Post-round interview with head coach Bruce Heppler

CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION/FORMAT – Finals play consists of 72 holes of stroke play followed by an eight-team match play tournament. Stroke play begins Friday, May 26 and continued thru Sunday, May 29 (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 30, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 31.

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 last of three straight years that the Grayhawk will host the NCAA Championship. The championship moves to LaCosta Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., for the next three years (2024-26).

  • Saturday, May 27 – Second round of stroke play competition (Tech begins at 2:52 p.m. ET, No. 10 tee)
  • Sunday, May 28 – Third round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 36-hole scores)
  • Monday, May 29 – Final round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 54-hole scores)
  • Tuesday, May 30 – Quarterfinals and semifinals of team match play
  • Wednesday, May 31 – Championship match to determine team champion

TELEVISION – Golf Channel will air live coverage of the final round of stroke play Monday, May 29 (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 30, and the team championship match Wednesday, May 31 (5-9 p.m. ET). Encore presentations will be aired at 10 p.m. each day. Read more details here.

TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 32 times since 1985 (33 times in program history), which is tied for fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (36), Arizona State (35), Florida (34) and Texas (34), three of whom are in the field in Scottsdale.

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. Tech lost in the quarterfinals each time, except for 2013, when the Jackets lost in the semifinals. 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. The Yellow Jackets have finished in the top eight of stroke play 16 times.

In the two NCAA Championships played at Grayhawk Golf Club, Tech finished 15th in 2022 and tied for 12th last year.

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.

 


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 28th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 72 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 32 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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