The 2019-20 college golf season resumes in early February, with Georgia Tech the highest ranked of the state’s Division 1 teams at No. 3 in the Golfstat rankings entering the Spring schedule.
Georgia ended the Fall ranked 19thand appears to be the only other state team in line for an at-large berth in the NCAA Championship. Augusta (82) and Georgia Southern (92) are the only other Georgia teams in the top 100.
GEORGIA TECH is coming off a Fall schedule that included a win in the Carpet Capital at the Farm outside Dalton, a tie for first at Olympia Fields in Chicago and a victory in a match play event at Cypress Point in northern California.
The only negative from the Fall was a disappointing tie for 10that Golf Club of Georgia, one of two events hosted by the Yellow Jackets.
Tech’s win in the Carpet Capital was particularly impressive, as the Jackets played minus 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, who was competing in the Walker Cup, and were without starter Noah Norton for the final two rounds due to injury.
Senior Luke Schniederjans of Powder Springs, a 4-year starter, picked up his third career win at the Farm to lead Tech to victory, and begins the Spring schedule ranked 25thin the country according to Golfstat.
Fellow senior Tyler Strafaci is ranked 17th, after placing second in the Carpet Capital and fifth at GC of Georgia, with one poor round at Olympia Fields keeping him from a third top 10.
Ogletree and Norton keyed the tie for first at Olympia Fields with sophomore Ben Smith tying for 14th. Smith is one of several team members competing for the fifth spot in the lineup behind seniors Schniederjans, Strafaci and Ogletree and junior Norton, all of whom have started since their freshman seasons.
Norton closed out 2019 with a victory in a top amateur tournament in Arizona.
Connor Howe started for most of his freshman season in 2018-19 and Johns Creek freshman Andy Mao drew the starting nod in the Fall opener at the Farm and played well, tying for 18th. Smith, Howe and Mao are the main contenders for the fifth spot going into the Spring, which begins in Hawaii Feb. 6-8.
The Jackets play in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, both with Georgia also in the field, before closing out the Spring with two events in Florida. The ACC Championship will be played April 17-19 at its annual home in North Carolina.
Georgia Tech has been a frequent contender in NCAA Championships over the years, but is still looking for its first national title. With a talented, veteran squad, this could be the team’s best chance for a while.
GEORGIA had an inconsistent Fall, winning tournament in Louisiana and at Crooked Stick in Indiana, while finishing middle of the pack in two other starts and needing a strong finish to place fourth in Hawaii.
Like Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs have a strong first four, with the fifth spot revolving among several players.
Georgia’s top two players in the Fall were junior Davis Thompson and sophomore Trent Phillips, ranked 17thand 30thnationally.
Thompson, who moved to St. Simons with his family after completing his high school career in Auburn, Ala., picked up his second career win to lead Georgia to its victory in Louisiana, and placed fourth at Crooked Stick. In five Fall starts, his lowest finish was 12th. Thompson scored his first victory in a 2019 NCAA Regional played at the UGA course in Athens, leading the Bulldogs to a regional title.
Phillips, a second team All-America last year as a freshman with six top 10s and 11 of 11 top 20s, won the individual title in Hawaii on the seventh playoff hole, setting a school record with a 20-under score of 193. He also had three other top 10s, and like Thompson, ended the Fall with a scoring average under 70.
Spencer Ralston, a senior from Gainesville, had two top 10s and two other top 20s in the Fall, and lost in a playoff in a national college invitational in El Paso. Ralston has been a consistently successful performer for the Bulldogs throughout his career, collecting a pair of runner-up finishes as a sophomore and placing third in last year’s NCAA Regional in Athens.
Callum Masters, a senior transfer from Troy, moved into the starting lineup in the Fall and helped lead the team title at Crooked Stick with a second place showing.
Among the contenders for playing time this Spring are seniorTrevor Phillips, Trent’s brother, a full-time starter as a sophomore and junior; fellow senior Will Chandler of Atlanta, who has been in and out of the lineup throughout his career; redshirt freshman Nicolas Cassidy of Johns Creek; sophomore Will Kahlstorf of Watkinsville, a starter for most of last season as a freshman; and freshman Connor Creasy.
The Bulldogs open their Spring schedule with tournaments in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, with Georgia Tech in the field for both events. They play home state events March 20-22 in the annual Linger Longer Invitational at Lake Oconee’s newly-renovated Great Waters and at Forest Hills in Augusta April 4-5 in the Haskins Invitational.
After competing at Shoal Creek in Birmingham in mid-April, the Bulldogs play in the SEC Championship at Sea Island GC, which begins April 20.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN joined Georgia Tech and Georgia in the 2019 NCAA Championship, but the Eagles have fallen a bit this season after the graduation of first team All-American Steven Fisk of Stockbridge. The Eagles returned their other starters, but finished ninth, 10thand 13thin three of their four Fall tournaments.
In their other start, the Eagles repeated as champions of an event played at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley in North Carolina, winning by one shot over South Carolina with a school record of 47-under 805.
Four Georgia Southern golfers posted top-10 finishes in the team’s winning effort, led by Mason Williams,who tied for second, and Brett Barron, a senior from Forsyth County, who tied for fourth. Ben Carr, a sophomore from Columbus, and Jake Maples, a senior from McDonough, also placed among the top 10 in Cashiers, N.C.
Barron, a 4-year starter, was joined in last year’s starting lineup by Carr and Williams, with Albany sophomore Colin Bowles moving into the lineup late in his freshman season after transferring from Ohio State. Bowles and Carr had several solid starts in the Fall, and the Eagles have a large number of players looking to break into the starting lineup this Spring.
Both senior Luukas Alakulppi of Valdosta and sophomore Wilson Andress of Macon saw action in the Fall, and senior Alexander DeRosa of Atlanta and junior Jacob Bayer of Lawrenceville have played earlier in their careers in Statesboro.
The Eagles stick close to home this Spring, with tournaments in Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee and two in Georgia. They host the annual Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights March 13-15 and play at Lake Oconee the following weekend. The Sun Belt Championship is scheduled for April 26-29 in Arkansas.
AUGUSTA has been an annual NCAA Regional participant in recent years thanks to its golf only membership in the MEAC.
In five Fall starts, the Jaguars had three finishes of 10thor lower, but were sixth in a tournament in Raleigh and closed out the Fall by placing third in a 21-team field at Kiawah Island.
McCullough Pickens, a senior from Sea Island, recorded a pair of top 10s to lead the Jaguars, with brothers Alex and Ben van Wykboth posting a top-15 finish, as did Viktor Lindgren in his only Fall start. Gustav Andersson, one of only two seniors on the squad, started all five tournaments along with Pickens and the van Wyk brothers, with Canton freshman Jack Vajda making three starts. Five of the players on the Jaguars’ roster are freshmen or sophomores.
The Jaguars opened their 2020 Spring schedule in southern California, and play at Hilton Head and Daytona Beach before closing out the Spring with two Georgia tournaments. Augusta plays in the Linger Longer Invitational at Lake Oconee’s Great Waters March 20-22 before hosting the Haskins Invitational at Forest Hills April 4-5. The MEAC Championship is April 13-15 in Greensboro, N.C.
GEORGIA STATE got a strong Fall showing from Ashton Poole,a graduate transfer from Virginia, but other than senior Josh Edgar, a 4-year starter, no other Panther golfer had a finish in the top 35. The best finishes for Georgia State were a pair of ties for eighth out of four events, one of them in an annual event hosted by the Panthers at Berkeley Hills.
Senior Egil Gunnarsson and grad student Severin Soller joined Poole and Edgar in giving the Panthers a veteran starting lineup,withsophomoreDavid Li and freshman Will Chambless of Culloden making multiple starts. Owen Sertl, a junior from Marietta, also saw action for the Panthers.
The Panthers open their Spring schedule Feb. 23-25 in Puerto Rico, and play at Grand National in Opelika, Ala., in early March before competing in two Georgia tournaments. Georgia State plays in the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro March 13-15 and the Haskins Invitational in Augusta April 4-5, before closing out the Spring at Old Waverly in Mississippi in mid-April. The Sun Belt Championship will be played April 26-29 in Arkansas.
KENNESAW STATE lost most of its talent from the 2018-19 team, and started slowly in the Fall before closing with its best showing of the season, tying for fourth at Steelwood CC in Alabama.
Junior Brady Keranof Canton, who started for the Owls as a freshman, tied for ninth at Steelwood, while senior Connor Coffee, a 4-year starter from Peachtree City, and Norcross sophomore Brock Healy, a transfer from Valdosta State, both tied for 14th.
In their previous start, the Owls placed sixth in the event they host annually at Pinetree CC, leading after the first round before dropping to second following afternoon play. Freshman Preston Topper of Suwaneetied for eighth at Pinetree to lead the Owls, with sophomore Ryan Hines from Woodstock tying for 14th.
Takafumi Shimoji, like Hopper a freshman from Suwanee, shot 66 in his debut in an event in Cashiers, N.C., and ended up tied for 22nd, but that was his only appearance of the Fall.
The Owls stick to the South for their Spring schedule, opening at Grand National in Opelika, Ala., March 8-10 and returning to Alabama late that month for an event in Gulf Shores. Kennesaw State plays in the Linger Longer Invitational at Lake Oconee’s Great Waters March 20-22 and in the Haskins Invitational in Augusta April 4-5 before their final regular season tournament in Mississippi in mid-April.
The Atlantic Sun Championship is set for April 19-21 at the Legends at Chateau Elan.
Mercer had its highest finishes of the Fall in Georgia, tying for sixth in an event hosted by Georgia State at Berkeley Hills and for third at Pinetree in a tournament hosted by Kennesaw State.
Spencer Ball, a senior from Forsyth County, had a pair of top 20s in the Fall for the Bears, as did junior Tyler Copp. Sophomore Martin Plukka had Mercer’s top two finishes, tying for 13that Berkeley Hills before closing the Fall with a strong tie for third at Pinetree. Mercer led the tournament after 36 holes before falling back the final day.
Three players shared the fifth spot , among them Columbus freshman Jonathan Parker, who was in the lineup for the Bears’ 2019-20 opener.
Mercer begins its Spring schedule with two tournaments in Ft. Lauderdale. The Bears also play at Grand National in Opelika, Ala., and at Spartanburg CC in an event hosted by Wofford. The team’s other two tournaments are at nearby Lake Oconee – the annual Linger Longer Invitational March 20-22 at Great Waters, and the Southern Conference Championship April 19-21 at Reynolds Landing.