THE FLATS – Returning to action following a successful fall season, Georgia Tech’s golf team has traveled to the Big Island of Hawai’i to take part in its traditional spring season opener, the Amer Ari Intercollegiate beginning Thursday at Hapuna Golf Course in Waimea, Hawai’i.
After winning twice in the fall and finishing the season No. 20 in the Golfstat rankings (No. 17 in Golfweek/Sagarin and No. 18 in the Bushnell Coaches poll), head coach Bruce Heppler has six Yellow Jackets competing against a 19-team field that includes eight teams ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in the current Golfstat rankings.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech has played in the Amer Ari Intercollegiate every year since 1999. The 31st annual event, which runs Thursday through Saturday, is a traditional collegiate 54-hole, 5-count-4 stroke-play tournament. The event this year will be contested on Hapuna Golf Course in Waimea (6,875 yards, par 72).
The Yellow Jackets have won this event five times, all between 2000 and 2007, and six Yellow Jackets have won or shared the individual title, including Matt Kuchar (shared title in 2000 and 2001), Carlton Forrester (shared title in 2000), Bryce Molder (shared title in 2001), Troy Matteson (2003) and Cameron Tringale (2007). Tech tied for third place last year in a reduced nine-team field.
The field includes (with Golfstat ranking) No. 3 Arizona State, No. 18 Auburn, Colorado, No. 20 Georgia Tech, Hawai’i, No. 4 Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, No. 6 Pepperdine, San Jose State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, UC Davis, UCLA, UH Hilo and No. 21 Washington.
TEAM UPDATE – Tech has four starters back from its 2020-21 squad which finished 15th at the NCAA Championship. Those four players – senior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.), juniors Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) and Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), and sophomore Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) – form the Yellow Jackets’ nucleus along with transfer Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) and freshman Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands).
They led the Yellow Jackets to fall victories n the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and the Hamptons Intercollegiate, a fifth-place finish in the Windon Memorial Classic and a sixth-place close in its own Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate.
Lamprecht led Tech in stroke average (69.67) and top-10 finishes in the Maui Jim and the Windon, and enters the spring as the Jackets’ top-ranked player at No. 41 in Golfstat. Howe also had a pair of top-10 finishes, at the Windon and the Hamptons, before winning the prestigious Patriot All-America Amateur in December, and is ranked No. 56. Steelman (No. 156) and Forrester (No. 190) also turned in a pair of top-10 finishes in the fall.
TECH LINEUP – Tech’s lineup for the Amer Ari Intercollegiate includes Forrester, Howe, Lamprecht, Reuter and Steelman, while Smith will compete as an individual.
Christo Lamprecht (Sophomore, George, South Africa) – Tallest player ever in Tech program at 6-foot-8 … Runner-up at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate with a program-record 54-hole score of 194 (-16), tied for 10th at the Windon Memorial and 14th at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … Leads the Jackets in stroke average at 69.67 … Currently Tech’s highest ranked player at No. 41 in Golfstat and No. 54 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … No. 89 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Connor Howe (Junior, Ogden, Utah) – Ranks No. 63 in the PGA Tour University ranking, No. 56 in Golfstat and No. 75 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Won the Patriot All-America Amateur tournament in December … Tied for 7th at the Windon Memorial Classic and the Hamptons Intercollegiate, and tied for 19th at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate … Stroke average of 70.17 is No. 3 on the team … T-5 at the Southern Amateur, T-7 at the Monroe Invitational and T-11 at the Dogwood Invitational last summer … No. 82 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Ross Steelman (Junior, Columbia, Mo.) – Tied for ninth place at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and was runner-up at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … Currently ranked No. 156 in Golfstat and No. 106 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, No. 51 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking … Fourth-best stroke average on the team at 70.50 … Second-team All-Southeastern Conference last spring, ranked No. 28 national ranking in Golfstat … Tied for third at the NCAA Noblesville Regional … Reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur last summer … T-3 at the Monroe Invitational, T-11 at the Northeast Amateur.
Bartley Forrester (Junior, Gainesville, Ga.) – Tied for sixth place at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate competing as an amateur (63 in the final round) and seventh at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … No. 190 in the Golfstat ranking and No. 150 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur and posted a T-20 at the Monroe Invitational last summer … High finish last spring was T-18 at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate … Co-medalist the 2020 Puerto Rico Classic.
Benjamin Reuter (Freshman, Naarden, The Netherlands) – Played three times in the fall, earning his best finish with a tie for 13th at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate … Also tied for 21st at the Hamptons Intercollegiate … Tied for 64th at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate … Won the Dutch National Championship and reached match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur last summer … Ranked No. 176 in World Amateur Golf Ranking, No. 113 in European Golf Ranking.
Ben Smith (Senior, Novi, Mich.) – Ranks No. 80 in the PGA Tour University ranking … Posted a high finish last fall of T21 at the Hamptons Intercollegiate, and had a 72.17 stroke average over 12 rounds … T-8 at Monroe Invitational, T-10 at Northeast Amateur last summer … Tied for eighth at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional, and tied for ninth at the Calusa Cup last spring.
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the A-T Fund’s Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes, and the Support The Swarm Fund, created to give fans an opportunity to help Georgia Tech athletics maintain its recent momentum through the financial challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic! To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team has completed 26 years under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 67 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.