Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and Augusta all scored victories in the second starts of their 2020 schedules to highlight the first month of the Spring college season for the state’s Division 1 men’s programs.
GEORGIA TECH opened its Spring schedule with a disappointing fifth place showing in Hawaii, but bounced back with a victory in Puerto Rico with Georgia among the teams in the field.
The Yellow Jackets finished the Puerto Rico tournament with a 32-under 832 total, two shots ahead of Oklahoma and 13 in front of Georgia, which placed third. Oklahoma led Tech by one after 18 holes, with the Jackets posting a 20-under 268 total the second day to lead by one going to the final round. Tech held on to its slim advantage, matching its first day score of 282 to edge out the Sooners.
Making his first start as a member of Georgia Tech’s team lineup, Gainesville redshirt freshman Bartley Forrestershared individual medalist honors for the tournament at 9-under 207. Forrester posted scores of 72-66-69 to finish in a three-way tie for first, playing in place of usual starter Noah Norton.
Sophomore Connor Howe,typically the team’s No. 5 player, opened with a pair of 68s to share the lead after 36 holes before falling back into a tie for 13thwith a non-counting final round of 76. Tech’s other four starters all shot par or better in the third round to offset Howe’s shaky finish.
Seniors Luke Schniederjans of Powder Springs and 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree tied for sixth at 209. Schniederjans shot 69-68-72 and Ogletree posted scores of 73-66-70, including a key birdie late in the final round. Tyler Strafaci, Georgia Tech’s third senior starter, struggled the first two days with non-counting scores, but contributed a final round 71 that aided the Yellow Jackets in scoring their narrow victory.
Tech let a 5-shot lead slip away in the final round in Hawaii, ending up five shots behind Pepperdine in fifth place. Tech was tied for the lead at 14-under 274 after the first round and shot 19-under 269 the next day to grab the lead, with the team’s highest counting score a 68.
But the Yellow Jackets could do no better than 287 the final day, and Pepperdine made up 17 shots to win by two over Texas.
Ogletree tied for third at 12-under 204, one shot behind the co-medalists, who shot 64 and 65 the final day. Ogletree shot 68-66-70, with his back nine in the final round including three bogeys. Strafaci led by two shots after 36 holes with scores of 64-67, but shot 75 the final day with four bogeys on the back nine to tie for sixth at 206.
After opening with scores of 69-68, Norton closed with a 73, playing his last five holes in 4-over. He tied for 21stat 210. Howe, who shot 68 in the second round, followed with a 75 the next day with four bogeys on his final nine. After a tough second round, Schniederjans rallied with a final round 69 to lead the Jackets.
GEORGIA posted scores of 285-280-280 to finish well back of Georgia Tech and Oklahoma in Puerto Rico. Trent Phillipsled the Bulldogs, tying for fourth at 208, one shot behind the three co-medalists following a final round 66.
Atlanta senior Will Chandler, an occasional starter throughout his career, turned in one of his best efforts, tying for 13that 212 with scores of 72-68-72. Gainesville senior Spencer Ralston shot 69-70 the first two days, but followed with a non-counting 75 to tie for 24that 214. St. Simons junior Davis Thompson, who played in the PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico later that week, shot even par 216 to tie for 32nd.
Both Georgia Tech and Georgia were part of a 15-team field at Southern Highlands in Las Vegas that included 8 of the top 16 teams in the country, and neither contended. The Bulldogs shot 13-over 877 to tie for eighth, with the Yellow Jackets 10that 878. Southern Cal, ranked 36thin the country, shot 3-under 861 to win by two over Texas and three over Texas Tech, both top 10 teams.
Thompson led the Bulldogs, tying for sixth at 5-under 211 with scores of 67-75-69. Phillips closed with a 66, the low score the final day, to tie for 16that 216. The other three Bulldogs struggled, with Ralston the top finisher of the trio at T48 with a second round 70. SeniorCallum Masters contributed scores of 72-75 the final two rounds.
The Bulldogs play in the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee March 20-22 and at Forest Hills in Augusta April 4-5.
Forrester again led Tech, tying for 16thwith scores of 75-69-72. Ogletree closed with a 68 to tie for 26that 220, with Strafaci T30 at 221. Schniederjans had a rough week and finished outside the top 50.
AUGUSTA finished last in its first start of 2020 in California against a strong field that included some of the top teams on the West Coast, but the Jaguars rebounded to win their next event at Wexford Plantation on Hilton Head Island.
After posting scores of 286 and 284, Augusta led by two shots after 36 holes with a 6-under total the first day. Scores soared the second day, with only one team breaking 300. Despite posting a 308 score in the final round, the Jaguars held on to win by three over Davidson with a 14-over 878 total.
Augusta was led by freshman Ben van Wyk, who led after 36 holes with scores of 70-67 before closing with a 79 to tie for third at 216. Gustav Andersson shot 69-72 the first day and tied for fifth at 217, with Alex van Wyk T11 at 221, matching Andersson’s team-best 76 in the third round. Jack Vajda, a freshman from Canton, shot a pair of 74s the first day.
Alex Ross of Davidson, who played his high school golf at Atlanta’s Pace Academy, shared medalist honors with one of his teammates at 2-under 214, highlighted by a second round 64. Furman’s Keller Harper,one of two starters on the team from Westminster in Atlanta, tied for third at 216.
The Jaguars will play in the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee March 20-22 before hosting the annual Haskins Award tournament at Forest Hills April 4-5, the weekend before the Masters.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN also scored an early Spring victory, capturing the Colleton River Collegiate in Bluffton, S.C. The Eagles shot 15-under 849 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout to win by seven strokes over Iowa State. Notre Dane, the highest ranked team in the field at 12thnationally, was third.
The Eagles shot under par in each round, posting scores of 281-285-283. Iowa State was the only other team in the field to finish under par for the tournament.
Three Georgia Southern sophomores tied for third individually with 4-under 212 totals, two shots behind the medalist. Ben Carr of Columbus shot 72-70-70, Colin Bowles of Albany had scores of 71-71-69, and Mason Williams led the team in the first round with a 68, following with scores of 73-71,
Jake Maples, a senior from McDonough, was the fourth Georgia Southern golfer in the top 10, tying for 10that 214 with scores of 71-70-73. Fellow senior Brett Barron of Cumming shot 71 in the first round for his only counting score, as none of his teammates had a higher score than 73.
The Eagles placed seventh in their 2020 opener in Gainesville, Fla., well behind tournament champion Florida. Carr shot a final round 65 to finish eighth at 1-under 209. Maples closed with back-to-back 70s to tie for 24that 215, and Bowlesopened with a 69 and tied for 31stat 216.The Eagles finished with an 858 total, matching par of 280 in the final round.
Georgia Southern will host the long-running Schenkel Invitational March 13-15 at Forest Heights. Among the teams in the field are Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Kentucky. The Eagles will play the following weekend in the Linger Longer at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
MERCER played a pair of tournaments in Ft. Lauderdale to start its Spring schedule, placing fifth out of eight teams in a match play event and taking seventh out of 15 in stroke play. The Bears lost to Florida Gulf Coast 4½ – 1½ in the first round of the Presidents Day Match Play before defeating St. Bonaventure 5-1 and George Washington 6-0 in the consolation rounds.
Martin Plukka was the only Mercer winner against FGCU, winning 7&6, and was 3-0 in three matches.Tyler Copp tied his first match and won his next two, while senior Spencer Ball of Cumming was one of three Mercer golfers to win two of his three matches.
Copp led the Bears in the stroke play event, tying for 10that 4-under 212. Ball and Plukka tied for 26that 218. Mercer finished at 3-over 867.
The Bears play at Grand National in Opelika, Ala., March 8-10 and will be one of five Georgia teams competing in the Linger Longer Invitational March 20-22 at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
KENNESAW STATE will open its Spring season at Grand National March 8-10 and will serve as the host school for the Linger Longer Invitational March 20-22, which will be played on the Reynolds Landing course. The Owls will also play at Forest Hills in Augusta April 4-5.
GEORGIA STATE, which had its Spring opener in Puerto Rico rained out after 18 holes, will be the third Georgia team playing at Grand National March 8-10. The Panthers will also compete in the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro March 13-15 and in the Augusta Haskins Award event April 4-5.