WAIKOLOA, HAWAI’I – Freshman Tyler Strafaci and senior James Clark each shot 3-under-par 69 Saturday, and 25th-ranked Georgia Tech closed with a 3-under-par 285 round and finished in a tie for seventh place at the 26th annual Amer Ari Invitational at the Waikoloa Village Resort.
TECH LINEUP – Tech was buoyed by three subpar rounds Saturday, with freshman Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) adding a 1-under-par 71, and fellow rookie Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) provided the Yellow Jackets’ fourth counting score with a 76.
Strafaci (Davie, Fla.), playing his first event as a counting member of Tech’s travel team, shot 69-70-69 for a 54-hole total of 208 (-8) and a tie for 13th place. Ogletree played solidly all three days (72-68-71) and tied for 22nd place at 211 (-5). Clark (Columbus, Ga.) shook off an opening 76 to finish 67-69 and tie for 27th place at 212 (-4). Schniederjans counted for the Jackets all three days and finished in a tie for 81st place at 222 (+6).
Junior Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.), competing as an individual, finished in a tie for 27th with rounds of 72-70-70.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Georgia Tech’s 285 (-3) score Saturday allowed the Yellow Jackets to move up two more spots and join a four-way tie for seventh place at 13-under-par 851 with fourth-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 10 Texas and No. 39 UCLA.
No. 18 Texas Tech closed with a 10-under-par round of 278 and finished the tournament at 820 (-44), winning by eight strokes over No. 7 Southern California (828, -36). No. 20 Oregon (838, -26) finished third, followed by No. 33 Arizona State and No. 28 Colorado (tied at 841, -23). No. 6 Stanford finished sixth at 843 (-21).
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Rico Hoey of Southern California, the 36-hole leader, shot 70 Saturday and shared medalist honors with Arizona State’s Jared duToit and Texas Tech’s Fredrik Nilehn at 16-under-par 200. duToi shot 66 Saturday, while Nilehn carded a 67.
Stanford’s Maverick McNealy shot 68 Saturday and finished in fourth place at 14-under-par 202. Colorado’s Jeremy Paul and Texas Tech’s Federico Zuchetti tied for fifth at 11-under-par 205.
Forty-nine of the 120 players in the field finished 54 holes under par on the 7,074-yard Kings Course.
COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAYS – “I think this was a good experience playing against some really strong teams, and we had a pretty positive finish today. The field was a very competitive one with some very experienced teams. It was a battle all the way in amongst teams six through 11. Luke birdied his last hole, and Tyler birdied two of his last three. James played very well over the final 36, and Andy and Chris were solid all three days.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech made its 19th appearance in the Amer Ari Invitational, which has been the traditional spring opener for the Yellow Jackets every year since 1999, with one exception. The 54-hole event is played at the 7,074-yard, par 72 Kings Course at the Waikoloa Resort on the Kona Coast of Hawai’i.
The 21-team field, which gets stronger each year, boasted four of the nation’s top 10 teams – No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Southern California and No. 8 Auburn, and 11 of the nation’s top 50 in the current rankings. Two of those teams, No. 11 Texas and No. 22 Oregon, faced off in the NCAA Championship match last spring. Five of the top 10 individuals in the nation are on those teams.
NEXT UP – Tech travels to Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, to play in the Puerto Rico Classic, Feb. 19-21.