The 2018 college golf schedule has begun, with Georgia Tech beginning its spring schedule Feb. 1 in Hawaii and the state’s other Division 1 programs starting later this month.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a strong fall showing, and come into the 2018 portion of the schedule ranked third in the country by Golfstat.
Traditional championship contender Georgia did not fare nearly as well, and ended the fall ranked 93rd in the country behind Kennesaw State (46) and Georgia Southern (66).
Here’s a look at Georgia’s Division 1 programs entering the 2018 spring season:
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets opened the fall by winning the annual Carpet Capital event they host annually at The Farm, and added a second victory in a tournament hosted by Middle Tennessee. In the teams two other fall starts, the Jackets were a close second in Scottsdale, Ariz., one shot behind Arizona State, and tied for fourth at Golf Club of Georgia, an event also hosted by the Yellow Jackets.
Tech’s fall success was a team effort, with five of its players coming into the spring ranked 126th in the country or higher.
Sophomore Luke Schniederjans of Powder Springs is the team’s highest ranked player at 38 thanks to four solid fall finishes. He placed between seventh and 16th in all four tournaments and led the team in scoring average (71.5) among the five players who saw action in each of the four events.
Senior Jacob Joiner of Leesburg did not play in Tech’s season-opening victory at The Farm, and played as an individual in Arizona before closing out the fall with finishes of third in Tennessee and T7 at Golf Club of Georgia as a part of the team’s starting five. He finished the fall 41st nationally with a slightly lower scoring average (71.33) in his three starts than Schniederjans.
Sophomores Tyler Strafaci and Andy Ogletree were ranked 91 and 94 respectively at the end of the fall, with both players appearing in all four tournaments. Strafaci ‘s best finish was fourth in Arizona, and he placed in the top 15 two other times. Ogletree led Tech to its win at The Farm with a tie for seventh.
Noah Norton broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and enjoyed considerable success in his first three starts, scoring top 10s in Arizona and Tennessee after a T15 debut at The Farm. He struggled in Tech’s tournament at GC of Georgia.
Senior Chris Petefish also tied for 15th at The Farm before losing his spot in the starting lineup to Joiner in the last two fall events, but played in those two as an individual.
Junior Tyler Joiner, Jacob’s younger brother, will be looking to join his brother in the starting lineup after tying for seventh as an individual at GC of Georgia.
Senior Michael Pisciotta of Alpharetta made two fall starts as an individual and shot 67 in the opening round at GC of Georgia. James Clark of Columbus, the team’s fourth senior and the most experienced player on the squad, elected to take a redshirt this season and will play his senior season in 2018-19.
After its early 2018 opener in Hawaii, Tech will play in Puerto Rico later this month before playing its remaining spring events in the Carolinas and Florida. The ACC Championship is scheduled for March 20-22 and will be hosted by North Carolina State.
Tech tied for fifth in its spring opener in Hawaii with a 22-under 842 total, with all five players placing between 23rd and 37th. Norton tied for 23rd at 6-under 210, opening with scores of 69-67. Schniederjans shot 67 in the second round and tied for 29th at 212. Strafaci opened with a 66 and tied for 32nd at 213 along with Ogletree, and Jacob Joiner closed with a 69 to tie for 37th at 214.
Georgia endured a disappointing fall season, finishing next to last in three of five starts and seventh and sixth in the other two. The lone bright spot for the Bulldogs was the play of Gainesville sophomore Spencer Ralston, who begins the spring ranked 75th in the country, the only Georgia golfer in the top 240.
Ralston placed in the top 10 in three of his five fall starts, highlighted by a tie for second at Crooked Stick in Indiana. Sophomore Trevor Phillips was the only other Bulldog to appear in all five fall tournaments and played respectably with two top-15 finishes and a top-25. He is the team’s second-ranked player behind Ralston at 244.
Sophomore Will Chandler of Atlanta and freshman Davis Thompson of St. Simons Island made four starts each in the fall, with Peachtree Corners senior Zach Healy in the lineup in three events and junior David Mackey of Bogart appearing twice.
Georgia opens its spring schedule Feb. 18-20 in Puerto Rico and plays the following week in Hilton Head before returning home for the one day Southern Intercollegiate at Athens CC March 12. The Bulldogs play in the annual Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Plantation March 18-20, and after a tournament in Tennessee will compete in the SEC Championship April 25-27 at Sea Island GC.
Kennesaw State closed out its fall schedule with finishes of third, second and second, ending up just one shot behind the winner in its final two events, including the tournament hosted by the Owls at Pinetree CC. Kennesaw was also a close second in its final fall start at Steelwood CC in Alabama.
The Owls were led throughout the fall by junior Jake Fendt of Cumming, who is ranked 43rd nationally entering the spring. After tying for 15th in the Owls’ fall opener at The Farm outside Dalton, Fendt tied for seventh in three of his next four starts and was runner-up at Pinetree, one of four straight top 10s.
After a slow fall start, junior Wyatt Larkin of Morganton closed fast, placing fourth at Pinetree and sixth at Steelwood. Also in the starting lineup for all five fall tournaments was sophomore Connor Coffee of Peachtree City, who had solid showings against strong fields in the Owls’ first two tournaments.
Junior Pablo Rodriguez Tabernero also was in the lineup in each of Kennesaw’s five fall events and tied for second at Steelwood, with freshman Brady Keran of Canton in the lineup four times with a best finish of 20th at Pinetree. Junior Adam Morris of Acworth was the only other Owl to make a start in the fall.
Kennesaw opens its spring schedule with two stops in Alabama, beginning with a tournament Feb. 12-13 in Mobile. The Owls play in the Southern Intercollegiate at Athens CC March 12, the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Plantation and a tournament hosted by Augusta at Forest Hills March 31-April 1 before competing in the Atlantic Sun Championship at the Legends at Chateau Elan April 15-17.
Georgia Southern’s fall schedule was highlighted by an impressive victory in a tournament at Berkeley Hills hosted by Georgia State. The Eagles also recorded a runner-up finish behind Notre Dame in a tournament hosted by the Fighting Irish after opening the Fall by placing fifth at Shoal Creek in Birmingham.
The Eagles were led by junior Steven Fisk of Stockbridge, who ended the fall ranked third in the country after two wins, a third and a sixth in four starts. After opening the fall by placing sixth at Shoal Creek, Fisk shared medalist honors at Notre Dame before blowing away the field at Berkeley Hills. He posted scores of 66-66-65 for a 19-under 197 total to win by 12 strokes.
The Eagles placed first in the team competition by a whopping 24 shots, finishing with a winning score of 17-under 847. In the Eagles’ fall finale in Hawaii, Fisk placed third at 18-under 198 highlighted by a 60 in the second round.
Georgia Southern started the same lineup in all four of its fall tournaments, with seniors Archer Price and Jake Storey joining the Georgia trio of Fisk, Brett Barron of Cumming and Luukas Alakulppi of Valdosta.
Price had three finishes of 12th or better, including a tie for fourth at Notre Dame. Barron, a sophomore, tied for seventh at Berkeley Hills, while Alakulppi, also a sophomore, was second on the team behind Fisk in Hawaii. Freshman Jacob Bayer of Lawrenceville made three starts as an individual and will look for increased playing time in the spring.
Georgia Southern opens its 2018 schedule Feb. 17-18 in Gainesville, Fla. The Eagles play in the Palmetto Invitational in Aiken, S.C., March 5-6, host the annual Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights CC March 16-18, and play two events in the Carolinas before competing in the Sun Belt Championship April 22-24 in Destin, Fla.
Georgia State placed second in the event it hosted at Berkeley Hills, but that was the lone fall highlight for the Panthers, who did not have another finish better than sixth. They were ranked 99th in the country entering the spring.
The Panthers got a boost from Mississippi State transfer Severin Soller, who led the team with a tie for fourth at Berkeley Hills and also won an individual tournament at Chateau Elan. With the addition of Soller, the Panthers have three starters from Germany, as he joins seniors Max and Alexander Herrman, the team’s most experienced players. Max led Georgia State with a tie for 10th in its fall opener in Arizona, with Alexander tying for 12th at Berkeley Hills.
Junior Nick Budd of Woodstock also was in the starting five in all four fall tournaments, with his best finish a tie for ninth in Greensboro, N.C. Nathan Williams, a junior from Gainesville, also saw extensive action in the fall.
The Panthers open their spring schedule in Houston Feb. 16-18, and they will play twice in Georgia in tournaments hosted by Georgia Southern and Augusta before competing in the Sun Belt Championship April 22-24 in Florida.
Other than a win against a weak field in Savannah and a seventh-place finish in Georgia State’s tournament at Berkeley Hills, it was a tough fall for the Augusta Jaguars.
Augusta won the tournament hosted by Savannah State at Crosswinds GC by 59 strokes, shooting 13-under for 54 holes. Five Augusta golfers placed among the top six, with freshman Alex Shead of Appling sharing medalist honors with teammate Broc Everett. The two also played well at Berkeley Hills, with Everett tying for fourth and Shead tying for seventh.
After opening their spring schedule in California Feb. 26-27, the Jaguars will play close to home the rest of the way. They will compete in at Palmetto GC in Aiken, S.C., March 5-6, at Reynolds Plantation in the Linger Longer Invitational March 18-20 and will host their annual event at Forest Hills the weekend before the Masters.
Augusta returns to Crosswinds in Savannah for the MEAC Championship April 19-21, with the tournament offering the Jaguars a near-certain victory and a spot in the NCAA Regionals. At 126 in the team rankings at the end of the fall, the Jaguars will need to win their conference championship to gain an NCAA bid.
Mercer was ranked 163 at the outset of its spring schedule, and like Augusta will have to win its conference championship to qualify for regionals. The Bears placed in the middle of the pack in most of their fall starts, with a fourth-place finish in a tournament in Tennessee their best showing.
The Bears utilized seven primary players in the fall, including a trio of freshman. Nolan Miller of Columbus and Tyler Copp, both freshman, made five fall starts, and fellow freshman Lino Galdin made four.
They were joined in the lineup by junior Stanton Schorr of Columbus, senior Brennan Bogdanovich of Cumming, and sophomore Spencer Ball of Cumming, a transfer from Armstrong.
Schorr got off to a strong start, tying for second in the team’s fall opener in Mississippi. He had a pair of top-20 finishes later in the season. Ball was team medalist twice, including a tie for fourth to lead the Bears to their best team finish in Tennessee.
Mercer plays tournaments in Florida and Hilton Head this month and will co-host the event at Reynolds Plantation March 18-20. The Southern Conference Championship will be played April 22-24 at Pinehurst.
Several Georgia golfers playing for colleges outside the state ended the fall schedule ranked among the top 150 in the country.
Kyle Mueller of Watkinsville, a junior at Michigan, is 24th, followed by Duke sophomore Chandler Eaton of Alpharetta (62), Penn State junior Charles Huntzinger of Duluth (100), Middle Tennessee junior Marcus Byrd of Dunwoody (119) and North Carolina State sophomore Benjamin Shipp of Duluth (146).