Columbus, Ohio – Ross Steelman rolled in a birdie putt from 20 feet on the final hole Wednesday, completing a final round of 3-under-par 68 and lifting Georgia Tech into a tie for first place with Oklahoma State and a share of the title at the NCAA Columbus Regional. Tech has advanced to the NCAA Championship finals, which begin next week in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the third straight year and for the 19th time in the last 24 years.
Along with No. 2 seed Tech and top seed Oklahoma State, sixth seed Ohio State, No. 3 seed Arkansas and No 5 seed East Tennessee State advanced from Columbus to the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 27-June 1 at Grayhawk Golf Club. Tech will play in the championship for the 31st time in program history, and for the 30th time since 1985, a number exceeded by only four other programs in Division I.
The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets won an NCAA regional for the sixth time in program history and secured their fifth tournament victory of 2021-22. The win also was the 70th for Georgia Tech in 26-plus years under head coach Bruce Heppler.
Tech and Oklahoma State began the final day tied for first place. The Cowboys forged a lead of as many as four strokes on the back nine before the race tightened again. Facing a two-stroke deficit as the last two groups played the final hole, a 417-yard par-4, the Yellow Jackets got birdies from freshman Benjamin Reuter and Steelman as their Cowboy counterparts made pars, creating a tie for the title.
Three Tech players – runner-up Steelman, Reuter and Connor Howe – finished in the top 10 individually.
The Yellow Jackets played in an NCAA regional for the 24th straight year and for the 31st time in the 33 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship (the NCAA Championship and regionals were not conducted in 2020 due to COVID-19). Tech has advanced to the finals in six of the nine years, including each of the last three, finishing fourth in 2019 (Pullman, Wash.) and third last spring (Tallahassee, Fla.) before winning Wednesday.
TECH LINEUP – The final round was played in difficult conditions early, with rain or threat of it prevailing the entire day, but the Yellow Jackets played steady and solid golf from top-to-bottom, getting a 68 from Steelman and an even-par 71 from each of the other four players. For the second straight day, Tech carded only one double-bogey or worse, and closed with three birdies out of five chances on the final hole.
Tech led the field in scoring on par-5 holes (-17), were second in par-3 scoring and third in par-4 scoring, and the Jackets’ 48 birdies collectively led the tournament.
Steelman posted a 54-hole total of 207, six shots under par and one behind medalist Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra of Oklahoma State. It was the sixth top-10 finish of the year for the 6-5 junior from Columbia, Mo. Reuter tied for fourth place at 2-under-par 211, earning his first top-10 in nine events as a freshman, and Howe tied for seventh at 1-under-par 212, his third top-10 in 11 events.
After an opening-round 78, Christo Lamprecht rallied to finish 68-71 and tied for 29th place at 217 (+4), while Bartley Forrester tied for 40th place at 219 (+6).
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Oklahoma State led or shared the lead from the start and ended up tied with Georgia Tech in what became a two-team race midway through the tournament. Both teams shot 3-under-par 281 Wednesday and posted 54-hole totals of 842 (-10).
The Buckeyes, seeded sixth on their home course, shot 2-under 282 Wednesday and finished third at 856 (+4), while the third-seeded Razorbacks shot 3-under 281 Wednesday and finished fourth at 859 (+7). The fifth-seeded Buccaneers grabbed the fifth and final qualifying spot at 862 (+10), four shots ahead of San Francisco and Clemson, its closest pursuers down the stretch.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – The Cowboys’ Lopez-Chacarra assumed the lead after 36 holes and held it, posting scores of 69-69-68 for a 7-under-par total of 206 and a one-stroke victory over the Yellow Jackets’ Steelman (207, -6).
Oakland’s Thomas Giroux finished third at 3-under-par 210, earning the right to advance as the low individual not on an advancing team. Tech’s Reuter tied for fourth place at 211 (-2) with Remi Chartier of East Tennessee State and Jackson Chandler of Ohio State. The Jackets’ Howe finished in a five-way tie for seventh at 212 (-1).
HEAD COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAID – “Our guys fought hard today all the way through the end. The five scores that we had were tremendous. Everybody stayed in the game the whole way, so certainly a great team effort. It was nice to have some breathing room. It had been a while since we’ve enjoyed that. This is a good team, and they’re growing and learning. They’ve got to believe that their best is good enough, and they’re getting close to that.”