THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s golf team, preseason ranked No. 3 by Golf Channel and No. 4 by Golfweek magazine, opens its 2021 fall schedule this weekend with the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Ariz. The tournament kicks off a four-event fall slate that will take the Yellow Jackets to Arizona, Texas, Ohio and back home to Atlanta.
Head coach Bruce Heppler’s 28th Tech team returns all five starters from the unit that finished 12th at last year’s NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, led by a trio of seniors in Bartley Forrester, Connor Howe and Ross Steelman, and junior Christo Lamprecht, a pre-season All-America selection.
Forrester, Howe and Lamprecht made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team last spring, and along with Steelman are ranked among the top 100 amateurs in the world according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Yellow Jackets are competing in the Maui Jim Intercollegiate for the fifth time, having won the tournament in 2018 and 2021 following finishes of sixth and second the two years prior. Georgia State hosts the 15-team event, which will be 54 holes beginning Friday and concluding Sunday. The team event will be played at Mirabel Golf Club, a 7,118-yard, par-70 layout in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the same vicinity as Grayhawk Golf Club, site of the NCAA Championship last spring and in each of the next two years.
The tournament will utilize a split-tee format for all three rounds, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. ET Sunday.
A companion 54-hole event for individuals not in their teams’ starting lineups will be staged concurrently at the Outlaw Course at Desert Mountain. Three Tech players will participate in the individual competition.
Participating teams include Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, New Mexico, NC State, Oregon, Tennessee, UNLV, Washington and Wake Forest. Georgia Tech (3), Arizona State (5), Tennessee (10), Florida State (11), Wake Forest (24), Oregon (26), East Tennessee State (27) and Washington (30) are all listed among Golf channel’s pre-season top 30 teams.
ROSTER OUTLOOK – Georgia Tech finished the 2021-22 season ranked No. 11 in Golfstat and No. 10 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, winning five tournaments, including a share of the NCAA Columbus (Ohio) Regional, from which all five starters return.
Heppler has assembled one of his most experienced teams, utilizing three seniors in Forrester, Howe and Steelman along with Lamprecht, a junior. The quartet combined for 19 top-10 finishes a year ago, with Lamprecht and Steelman leading the way with six each. Forrester, who captured the team’s only individual title with a share of first place at The Calusa Cup, had four top-10 finishes and was low Yellow Jacket at the NCAA Championship (15th place). Their scoring averages ranged from 70.22 for Lamprecht to 71.82 for Steelman.
Depth comes from sophomore Benjamin Reuter who was a regular with 29 rounds last season as a freshman, senior Andy Mao and juniors Adam Bratton and Aidan Kramer. Mao won the Southeastern Amateur and Kramer the Rice Planters Amateur over the summer. Bratton and Kramer will compete in Arizona this weekend.
Heppler added three freshmen, two of whom are pushing for playing time right from the beginning in Hiroshi Tai and Aidan Tran. Tai ranked as high as No. 45 in the U.S. junior rankings prior to his high school graduation and his mandatory 22-month military service for his home country, and Tran was No. 39 when he graduated high school in May. Both will compete in Arizona this weekend.
TECH LINEUP – Tech’s five-man starting lineup for the opener includes Forrester, Lamprecht and Steelman, who each advanced to match play at the U.S. Amateur, along with freshman Tran, who posted the lowest combined score from the team’s 54-hole qualifier at the Golf Club of Georgia and the 36-hole qualifier at East Lake Golf Club, and Howe.
Kramer, who won the Golf Club of Georgia qualifier, and Bratton, who won the East Lake qualifier, and freshman Tai will compete in the individual event.
Here’s a quick look at the Yellow Jackets competing this week, in order of their spot in the lineup …
Christo Lamprecht (Junior, George, South Africa) – Pre-season third-team All-American and returning All-ACC player … Advanced to the second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur, tied for ninth at the European Amateur Championship, competed for South Africa at the World Amateur Team Championships and for the victorious International team at the Arnold Palmer Cup this summer … Ranked No. 45 in WAGR … Finished last spring as Tech’s highest ranked player at No. 27 (Golfstat) after six top-10 finishes and a team-best 70.22 stroke average
Ross Steelman (Senior, Columbia, Mo.) – Came in just outside the top 30 in Golf Channel’s pre-season All-America team selections … Tech’s highest-ranked player in WAGR (26) and in the PGA Tour University rankings (13) … Six top-10 finishes last year for Tech … Advanced to match play this summer at the U.S. amateur and the North & South Amateur, also tying for 11th place at the Sunnehanna Amateur.
Bartley Forrester (Senior, Gainesville, Ga.) – No. 75 in the WAGR and No. 23 in the PGA Tour University rankings … Returning All-ACC player and honorable mention All-American who was No. 81 in the Golfstat rankings at the end of last spring … Tech’s top finisher at the NCAA Championship (15th) last spring, and posted four top-10 finishes, including a share of the title at The Calusa Cup … Won the Monroe Invitational this summer and tied for sixth at the Southern Amateur … Advanced to the second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur … Two career collegiate victories (2020 Puerto Rico Classic, 2022 Calusa Cup)
Aidan Tran (Freshman, Fresno, Calif.) – Made the starting lineup as a freshman for Tech’s first event of 2022-23 … Ranked No. 39 by the American Junior Golf Association at the time of his graduation last May, No. 35 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Boys Ranking … Advanced to match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur … Three wins and eight other top-10 finishes in junior events since 2018
Connor Howe (Senior, Ogden, Utah) – Enters the fall No. 42 in the PGA Tour University ranking and was No. 71 in the WAGR at the end of the summer … Fifth-year senior taking advantage of his COVID year after finishing 2021-22 No. 85 in the Golfstat rankings … Has five top-10 finishes the last two years, posting a career-low 70.94 stroke average in 2021-22 … Tief for 10th place at the Northeast Amateur and 18th at the Monroe Invitational last summer
Aidan Kramer (Junior, Oviedo, Fla.) – Won the team’s 54-hole qualifier at the Golf Club of Georgia to earn his spot this week … Played in two events, including the Maui Jim Intercollegiate, last year after not competing in 2020-21 … Played only two rounds, but averaged 69.50 and posted a 13th-place finish as an individual at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational … Won the Rice Planters Amateur last summer in a playoff over teammate Andy Mao, and tied for first but lost a playoff at the New year’s Invitational in Tampa
Adam Bratton (Junior, Newburgh, Ind.) – Won the team’s 36-hole qualifier at East Lake Golf Club to earn his spot this week for his third collegiate event … Played in one event last year (Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational) … Health issues limited him to one amateur event this summer, the Southeastern Amateur, where he tied for 33rd place
Hiroshi Tai (Freshman, Singapore) – Playing his first collegiate event … Enrolled at Tech last January after serving a 22-month stint in the Singapore Navy … Graduated from Windermere (Fla.) Prep in November 2020 prior to his military service … Made the cut (T44) in the Asian Tour’s International Series event in Singapore in August, beating out former Tech star and 2019 U.S. Amateur champ Andy Ogletree … Represented Singapore and tied for 58th at the World Amateur Team Championship … Tied for 12th at the Dogwood Invitational and tied for 19th at the Southeastern Amateur during the summer