Carefree, Ariz. - Freshman Noah Norton fired a 3-under-par 69 Friday and paced 18th-ranked Georgia Tech to fourth place after the opening round of the second annual Maui Jim Invitational, which begins Friday at Desert Forest Golf Club.
TECH LINEUP – Norton, a freshman who reached the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur last summer, birdied four holes against one bogey on the front nine, Tech’s second nine Friday, to finish with a 69 and grab second place after the opening round.
Senior Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.), who spent his high school years in Arizona, and sophomore Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) each shot 73 for the Yellow Jackets, while sophomore Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) survived a rough opening nine to finish with a 76. Sophomore Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), who led the Jackets at the Carpet Capital Collegiate with a T-7 finish, did not count Friday after posting an 80.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Kent State, with three players under par Friday, posted the day’s best round with a 7-under-par 281 and opened an eight-stroke lead over Arizona State and Minnesota, who each shot 1-over-par 289. The Yellow Jackets are alone in fourth at 291 (+3), followed by Kansas at 292, LSU and Lipscomb, each at 293 (+5).
Rice (297), Nebraska (298), Georgia State (300), Augusta (306), Gonzaga (306) and Hawai’i (332) round out the 13-team field.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Only 10 of the 78 golfers in the field broke par Friday. Norton is one stroke behind Gisli Sveinbergsson of Kent State, who double-bogeyed his opening hole and then reeled off nine birdies and two bogeys over his last 17 holes for a 68.
Riley Johnson of Minnesota, Blake Waggoner of Arizona State and Kent State teammates Bjarki Petursson and Chris Doody are tied for third after carding 70s.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “We had a slow start to the day, but then we played well for a good stretch. Playing in the desert is such a fine line between good and a really bad spot. A yard long or just off the fairway can be awful. It is a great opportunity to play severe conditions and test every part of your game, both physically and mentally. Noah played a really nice round today, and his great golf in the desert continues from this summer. We’ll be ready to go again tomorrow.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Maui Jim Invitational runs through Sunday at Desert Forest Golf Club, a 7,203-yard, par 72 layout on Carefree, Ariz. It is the second year in which the event, hosted by Georgia State’s golf program, has been played. Mirabel Country Club, where the inaugural event was held last September, is being renovated, and the tournament is set to return there in 2018. The Yellow Jackets finished sixth out of 16 teams in last year’s event, led by Chris Petefish, who finished in a tie for ninth place.
The 13-team field includes host Georgia State, Arizona State, Nebraska, Rice, Georgia Tech, LSU, Kent State, Augusta, Gonzaga, Minnesota, Hawai’i, Kansas and Lipscomb. Competition continues at 7:30 a.m. local time Saturday, and 7 a.m. Sunday.