THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s No. 11-ranked golf team has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, being seeded No. 2 at the NCAA Columbus (Ohio) Regional, which will be played May 16-18 at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course.
The NCAA announced on Wednesday afternoon all 81 teams and 45 individuals who will competing for spots in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship finals, and the fields for each of the six regional qualifying tournaments. The top five teams from each regional will advance to the finals, which will be conducted May 27-June 1 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Of the 81 teams, 30 were automatic qualifiers by winning their conference championships, and the other 51 earned at-large bids.
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.
The Columbus regional in which Tech will compete has the No. 2-ranked team in college golf, Oklahoma State, as its top seed, and includes nine teams that are ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation according to Golfstat. In order of seed, the field includes Georgia Tech (11), 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). San Francisco (West Coast), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley) and Wright State (Horizon League) are automatic qualifiers after winning their conference tournaments.
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 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.
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.
Tech finished second in stroke play and advanced to the championship match of the ACC Championship, 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 27-21 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.
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. 87, captured a share of medalist honors at The Calusa Cup and has finished no lower than 22ndin 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. 89.
REGIONAL QUALIFIER FORMAT – Each regional is a 54-hole, stroke-play event with 13 teams and 10 individuals, or 14 teams and five individuals, competing. Tech is part of a regional field that includes 13 teams and 10 individuals. The top five teams after 54 holes and one individual not on those teams advance from each regional to the NCAA Championship finals, which has a field of 30 teams and six individuals.
COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAID – “We’re happy to be back in the hunt and play in a regional again. I’m excited for this group of guys to have a chance to go do this at a historic place. But the reality is that they’re all good venues and all good teams, and you have to play well for three days to get through. That’s the nature of what college golf has become, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”