Stanford, Calif. – Vincent Whaley and Andy Ogletree each shot 3-under-par 69 in the final round Wednesday, but they were unable to prevent the 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets from slipping late and finishing in sixth place in the NCAA Stanford Regional at the Stanford Golf Course. For the second year in a row, Tech did not advance to the NCAA Championship finals.
North Carolina rallied Wednesday by posting a 3-under-par 277 total, making up seven strokes to surpass Tech, North Florida and Brigham Young and grab fifth place and the final qualifying spot. The Yellow Jackets failed to advance from an NCAA regional for just the fourth time in the 27 years the NCAA has utilized a regional qualifying format.
Also moving on from the Stanford Regional were Stanford, Baylor, Pepperdine and Oklahoma, which finished first through fourth.
TECH LINEUP – Tech began the day in a three-way tie for the final qualifying spot with Brigham Young and North Florida, and played the front nine in 1-over-par while the Cougars and Ospreys dropped back as many as three strokes. BYU continued to slip on the back nine, but UNF remained close while North Carolina rallied to join them in a three-way tie coming down the stretch.
Closing their round on the front nine, the Tar Heels posted five birdies at the 7th and 8th holes to grab a two-shot advantage on the Yellow Jackets, while the Ospreys fell to a 5-over-par finish. Tech, meanwhile, scored two critical bogeys at the par-4 18th.
Freshman Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.), who shot 76-62 in his first two rounds, birdied 16 and 17 to in an attempt to rally the Jackets. But he was able only to par the final hole and leave the Jackets one shot shy.
Whaley (McKinney, Texas) and Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss) were the first Tech players to finish on Wednesday, each posting a 69. Whaley had four birdies and three bogeys on his card, while Ogletree birdied three holes against a pair of bogeys, one of which came at 18. Freshman Tyler Strafaci and junior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.) each shot 74, one of which counted toward the Jackets’ 284 (+4) final-round score.
Schniederjans finished with a 72 (+2) and tied for 12th place individually at even-par 210. Ogletree tied for 17th at 211 (+1).
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Stanford, the host team and top seed, played its home course in 6-under-par Wednesday and forged a tie for the team title with 36-hole leader Baylor, finishing at 17-under-par 823. Pepperdine (835, -5) and Oklahoma (737, -3) each played even-par golf in the final round to finish third and fourth, respectively. The Tar Heels were the only team beside Stanford to post a subpar round Wednesday and finished with a 54-hole total of 843 (+3). Tech finished at 844 (+4).
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS – Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke shot 69 Wednesday and led the tournament wire-to-wire, finishing with a 54-hole score of 198 (-12), three shots clear of Baylor’s Cooper Dossey (201, -9), who shot 67 Wednesday. Stanford’s Maverick McNealy finished third at 8-under-par 202 after carding a final-round 70.
HEAD COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAYS – “This was a disappointing way to finish, for sure. We had a couple of three-putts at the last hole that would have made a difference. If we par one, we’re in a playoff; if we par both, we’re going to Chicago. But it’s always more than just one shot or two. You can look back over all three rounds and pick out things we could have done batter. We just needed to play better overall.”
REGIONAL TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Yellow Jackets, the No. 4 seed at Stanford, played in an NCAA regional for the 20th straight year and for the 27th time in the 29 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship.
The Stanford Regional included eight teams listed among the nation’s top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including (in order of seed) Stanford (4), Baylor (9), Oklahoma (15), Georgia Tech (21), Pepperdine (27), North Carolina (33), North Florida (41) and BYU (45). Houston (51), Ohio State (58), UC Santa Barbara (66), Sacramento State (107) and South Dakota State (196). BYU, UCSB, Sacramento State and South Dakota State qualified automatically by winning their conference tournaments.
The Stanford Golf Course played to a par of 70 and is 6,727 yards in length. It was the third layout under 7,000 yards the Yellow Jackets will play this spring.
This was the third straight year that Tech has traveled to the West Coast for its NCAA regional. The Jackets played last May in Tucson, Ariz., where they finished tied for seventh and failed to advance, and in San Diego in 2015.
The other five regional tournaments were conducted in Baton Rouge, La. (top seed, LSU); College Grove, Tenn. (top seed, Vanderbilt); West Lafayette, Ind. (top seed, Florida); Austin, Texas (top seed, Oklahoma State); and Sammamish, Wash. (top seed, Southern California).