Carefree, Ariz. - Tyler Strafaci fired a 4-under-par 68, and Luke Schniederjans added a 69 Saturday, helping 18th-ranked Georgia Tech move into a share of the 36-hole lead at second annual Maui Jim Invitational, which begins Friday at Desert Forest Golf Club. Georgia Tech posted a 2-under-par 286 and erased a 10-shot first-round deficit to tie Kent State heading into Sunday’s final round.
TECH LINEUP – Strafaci, a sophomore from Davie, Fla., played bogey-free golf Saturday, recording birdies at three of the par-4 holes and one at the par-5 16th on the way to his 68, and is tied for third place individually after 36 holes with a 3-under-par total of 141. Schniederjans, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., had six birdies and three bogeys on his card Saturday, moving into a tie for 17th place at 1-over-par 145.
Tech also got help from sophomore Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), who overcame a triple-bogey and a double-bogey to birdie his last four holes en route to a 74. Freshman Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), who shot 69 Friday, added a 75 for the Jackets and remains tied for 10th place individually at even-par 144.
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Ogletree’s four-birdie finish enabled the Yellow Jackets to recover from a nine from Norton on the par-5 16th and post a 2-under-par 286, the best team round of the day, and left Tech at 577 (+1) after 36 holes. It also enabled the Jackets to take advantage of a late collapse by Kent State, which posted a 7-under 281 Friday and was 7-under-par on its front nine Saturday. But the Golden Flashes dropped 15 strokes on the front nine (their second nine) at Desert Forest and posted an 8-over-par 296, and also finished 36 holes at 577.
They are three strokes ahead of LSU, Arizona State and Lipscomb, who are tied for third place at 580 (+4). Minnesota is in sixth at 582 (+6), followed by Kansas at 584 (+8).
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Dawson Armstrong of Lipscomb posted the best individual round of the day with a 67 and took the 36-hole lead at 6-under-par 138, one stroke ahead of first-round leader Gisli Sveinbergsson of Ken State, who shot 71 and stands at 5-under-par 139.
Tech’s Strafaci and Arizona State’s Alex Del Rey Gonzalez are tied for third place at 3-under-par 141, while Nebraska’s Jake Githmiller and the Sun Devils’ Mason Anderson are tied for fifth at 2-under-par 142. Three others are tied for seventh at 1-under-par 143.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – We didn’t play our best golf today, and made some mistakes that we need to learn from in playing desert courses, but the bottom line is we put ourselves in position to win the golf tournament. We’re playing with Kent State and LSU tomorrow, and if you shoot the best score, you should win. That’s all you can ask.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION– The Maui Jim Invitational concludes 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.