THE FLATS – For the 20th time in the last 21 years, Georgia Tech’s golf team has earned a top-25 position in the final rankings of both collegiate golf polls. The Yellow Jackets were tabbed No. 25 by Golfstat, and No. 24 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, completing a steady climb from the beginning of their spring schedule in January.
With a roster that included only two players that competed in the 2019 NCAA Championship, Tech incrementally improved throughout the spring and posted a top-15 finish at the 2021 NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Jackets, none of whom made the All-ACC team, played above their seed throughout the postseason. They tied for fifth place, one stroke out of match play, at the ACC Championship in Milton, Ga., finished third at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional after being seeded fifth, and played all 72 holes (the 30-team field is cut to the top 15 teams after 54 holes) after being seeded No. 22.
Also this spring, the Jackets won the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate in February in California, and posted runner-up finishes at the Calusa Cup and Linger Longer Invitational. Freshman Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) was Tech’s highest-ranked player nationally at the end of the year at No. 78 in Golfstat and No. 64 in the Sagarin rating.
Head coach Bruce Heppler loses two players to graduation, two-time All-ACC player Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.) and senior Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.), and will welcome a pair of newcomers for 2021-22, freshman Benjamin Reuter from The Netherlands, and Missouri transfer Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.), who will have three years of eligibility.
CINK, KUCHAR, STRAFACI COMPETING IN U.S. OPEN
Georgia Tech’s two most veteran PGA Tour pros, Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, and its most recently-turned-pro alumnus, Tyler Strafaci, are in the 156-player field to compete in the 121st United States Open Championship which begins Thursday at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego, Calif.
Cink earned his first U.S. Open start since 2017 by winning twice this year on the PGA Tour, the Safeway Open last fall and the RBC Heritage this spring. The 47-year-old Cink is making his 21st U.S. Open start overall, and has come the closest to victory at the U.S. Open of any Yellow Jacket since Bobby Jones with his third-place finish in 2001. He tied for 14th at Torrey Pines in 2008.
Kuchar, currently 96th in the FedEx Cup race for 2021, makes his 19th U.S. Open start, getting into the field by coming in among the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Having tied for sixth in 2010 for his best effort, Kuchar tied for 48th the last time the U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines.
Strafaci is in the field by winning the 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship, the second straight year a Yellow Jacket has accomplished that. It is his second U.S. Open start after having qualified for the 2018 championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf club, where he missed the cut. Strafaci, who made the cut in his first PGA Tour start as a pro two weeks ago at the Memorial, is in the traditional pairing with the defending U.S. Open (Bryson Dechambeau) and Masters (Hideki Matsuyama) champions.
Rounds 1-2 Pairings
- 7:40 a.m. / 1:25 p.m. – Kevin Kisner, Aiken, S.C.; Billy Horschel, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; Matt Kuchar, Sea Island, Ga.
- 1:14 p.m. / 7:29 a.m. – Tyler Strafaci, Davie, Fla.; Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Bryson DeChambeau, Clovis, Calif.
- 1:14 p.m. / 7:29 a.m. – Lee Westwood, England; Stewart Cink, Atlanta, Ga.; Paul Casey, England
SUMMER AMATEUR SCHEDULE IN FULL SWING
Nearly the entire Georgia Tech team that carries over from spring to 2021-22 was in the field at the summer’s first major amateur golf event, The Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club. Junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) was the Yellow Jackets’ highest finisher, tying for 11th place with a 13-under-par score of 275 that included a 61 in round 2, while sophomore Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) finished 17th at 11-under-par 277.
Junior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) tied for 23rd, while transfer Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.), tied for 26th, junior Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.) tied for 35th and recent graduate Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.) tied for 38th. Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.), Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.) and Aidan Kramer (Oviedo, Fla.) missed the 54-hole cut.
Sophomore Adam Bratton (Newburgh, Ind.) is competing this week in the first event in the summer amateur series being sponsored by the Golf Coaches Association of America, at Indiana University’s Pfau Course.
Five Yellow Jackets, including May graduate Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), are signed up to play in the next major amateur event, the Northeast Amateur on June 22-26 in Rumford, R.I. Norton plans one more attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur this summer before turning pro. Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.) will compete in the Rice Planters Amateur in South Carolina next week, while others will trek to Raleigh, N.C., for the second event in the GCAA summer amateur series.