Georgia Tech Golf Opens Spring on the Big Island
25th-ranked Yellow Jackets making 19th appearance in the Amer Ari Invitational
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech’s golf team, ranked No. 25 as the spring collegiate season begins and with three freshmen in its starting lineup, opens its spring season for the 19th time at the Amer Ari Invitational, which begins Thursday at the Waikoloa Resort Kings Course.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is making its 19th appearance in the Amer Ari Invitational, which has been the traditional spring opener for the Yellow Jackets every year since 1999, with one exception. The 54-hole event, which runs through Saturday, is played at the 7,074-yard, par 72 Kings Course at the Waikoloa Resort on the Kona Coast of Hawai’i.
The 21-team field, which gets stronger each year, boasts four of the nation’s top 10 teams – No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Southern California and No. 8 Auburn, and 11 of the nation’s top 50 in the current rankings. Two of those teams, No. 11 Texas and No. 22 Oregon, faced off in the NCAA Championship match last spring. Five of the top 10 individuals in the nation are on those teams.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech is ranked No. 25 in the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 26 in the Golfweek Sagarin Index after a fall season which saw the Yellow Jackets post a high finish of fifth place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. Tech placed sixth at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate and 12th at its own Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate. The Yellow Jackets finished the fall in a match-play event on the Monterrey Peninsula in California where they knocked off No. 11 Georgia and No. 6 Stanford.
TECH LINEUP – Head coach Bruce Heppler put his players through two 54-hole qualifying tournaments, taking the winners of each and then the top finishers in combined scores. Three freshmen – Luke Schniederjans, Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci – are among the starting five along with senior James Clark and junior Michael Pisciotta. Junior Chris Petefish is along to compete as an individual.
Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) holds the highest national ranking among Tech’s players at No. 46 in Golfstat. He won the Carpet Capital Collegiate in the fall put together a team-best 70.44 stroke average in nine fall founds. Clark (Columbus, Ga.) posted a high finish of 11th, also at the Carpet Capital, and compiled a 71.78 average in nine fall rounds. Ogletree is the only other player in the starting five who played in all four fall events (including the match play tournament), posting a 73.67 average and a high finish of 18th at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “This is a chance for us to go somewhere that we know will be 70 or 80 degrees for seven days and leave winter weather for a week. We’re one of only two or three teams on the East Coast that go. It’s the best field of the five (college) tournaments that are played over there. The biggest challenge of the golf course is the wind. If the wind gets nasty, it’s a learning experience to figure out how to flight your ball.
“This may be the first time we’ve ever had three freshmen in our starting lineup. They all earned their way there. Luke was our highest rated player from the fall, and Andy and Ty played their way in. Andy played well at the Carpet Capital and struggled some after that, and Ty struggled early and came on at the end. I think they’re coming along fine, and this is a big experience for them. I’m excited to see what they can do.”
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is entering its 22nd under head coach Bruce Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have won 16 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 28 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GT_Golf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.