THE FLATS – Georgia Tech begins its quest for a 30th all-time trip to the NCAA Championship finals Monday at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional at the Seminole Legacy Golf Club. It is one of six regional qualifying tournaments being held around the country Monday through Wednesday to determine the 30-team field for the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship, which begins May 28 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The top five teams in each regional qualifier advance to the NCAA Championship. Tech is the No. 5 seed in Tallahassee, behind host Florida State, Georgia, Liberty (Atlantic Sun Conference champion) and LSU. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt champion), TCU, Indiana, Kansas and Southern California are seeded 6 through 10, followed by Ohio State, Davidson (Atlantic 10 champion), Florida A&M (MEAC champion) and Long Island University (Northeast champion).
The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 23rd straight year and for the 30th time in the 32 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship (the NCAA Championship and regionals were not conducted last spring due to COVID-19).
Tech is playing in an NCAA regional in Tallahassee for the second time, having finished fourth and advancing to the finals from Tallahassee in 2013 at Golden Eagle Golf and Country Club. The Jackets have won five NCAA regionals all-time, most recently in 2014 in Raleigh, N.C. Since then, Tech has advanced only twice (2015, 2019) in five regionals, twice falling short by one stroke.
As the fifth seed, the Yellow Jackets will begin round 1 from the 10th tee from 9 to 9:44 a.m., paired with LSU and Georgia Southern. Teams and individuals will be re?paired according to score after the first and second rounds.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech sits No. 27 nationally in the most recent Golfstat rankings and No. 26 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets tied for fifth place at the 2021 Atlantic Coast Conference championship against a field that included four top-10 teams and 10 altogether that reside among Golfstat’s top 50 teams. 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.
Tech’s quintet to compete in the NCAA regional has quite a different look from the team that competed in 2019 and advanced to the NCAA Championship in Fayetteville, Ark. Gone are two U.S. Amateur champions in Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci, as well as a Georgia Amateur champion in Luke Schniederjans.
Only senior Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), a two-time All-ACC honoree, and junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), who had combined to play 118 of those 160 rounds, return to compete during the 2021 postseason and have NCAA postseason experience.
Freshman Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) has been a regular in the Yellow Jackets lineup since the first spring event in January, and head coach Bruce Heppler has rotated five other players through the two other spots in the lineup. Senior Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.) and junior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) competed for the Yellow Jackets in their two events, a second-place finish at the Calusa Cup and a tie for fifth at the ACC Championship.
Redshirt sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), who owns the only collegiate victory (2020 Puerto Rico Classic) among the current members of the team, has seen action in five events this spring and will be the alternate in case one of the Yellow Jackets is sidelined.
HEAD COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAID – “The group of guys that we have, with a relative lack of experience to the last few teams, getting to stay in our part of the country, familiarity with the grasses, the weather, easy trip – this is the first time for three of them to play in the postseason – is probably a good thing for them. The last two tournaments we played had a lot of top-10 teams in them, and the ACC has four of the top seven seeds, to those two events have convinced them that they can play with some of the elite teams in the country, so hopefully we go down there and keep doing that.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION/FORMAT – Eighty-one teams and 45 individuals are competing for spots in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship finals in six regional qualifying tournaments. The top five teams and one individual from each regional will advance to the finals, which will be conducted May 28-June 2 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., which has a field of 30 teams and six individuals.
Each regional is a 54-hole, stroke-play event with 13 teams and 10 individuals, or 14 teams and five individuals, competing. Tech is part of a regional field that includes 14 teams and five individuals.
The Tallahassee regional in which Tech will compete includes eight teams that are ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation according to Golfstat. In order of seed, the field includes Florida State (No. 2), Georgia (11), Liberty (16), LSU (23), Georgia Tech (27), Georgia Southern (32), TCU (43) and Indiana (46).
Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, and at 8 a.m. for Wednesday’s final round at Florida State’s campus course, Seminole Legacy Golf Club, which measures 7,505 yards and plays to a par of 72.
The other five regional sites are: Albuquerque, N.M. (UNM Championship Course, host: New Mexico); Kingston Springs, Tenn. (Golf Club of Tennessee, host: Vanderbilt); Stillwater, Okla. (Karsten Creek Golf Club, host: Oklahoma State); Cle Elum, Wash. (Tumble Creek Golf Club, host: Washington); and Noblesville, Ind. (Sagamore Golf Club, host: Ball State).