@GT_Golf Out West for NCAA Regional
Yellow Jackets are No. 2 seed at Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech's 10th-ranked golf team, which earned an automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship two weeks ago, has been made the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Regional, to be played Thursday through Saturday at The Farms Golf Club.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION - The Yellow Jackets are part of a regional field that includes 13 teams and 10 individuals. Of the 81 teams, 31 were automatic qualifiers by winning their conference championships, and the other 50 earned at-large bids.
The Rancho Santa Fe Regional will play host to eight teams listed among the nation's top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including, in order of seed, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 10 Georgia Tech (ACC champion), No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 22 New Mexico, No. 27 Virginia, No. 34 Georgia, No. 39 East Tennessee State (Southern Conference champion), and No. 47 Mississippi. The rest of the rest of the field includes host San Diego, Idaho, St. Mary's, Wichita State (Missouri Valley Conference champion) and Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley Conference champion). The regional is being played at The Farms Golf Club, a par-72 layout measuring 6,947 yards.
Ten teams from the ACC earned bids to NCAA regionals, most in conference history and most of any conference in the nation this year.
TOURNAMENT HISTORY - The Yellow Jackets are playing in an NCAA regional for the 18th straight year and for the 25th time in the 27 years the NCAA has used a regional qualifying format for its championship. Georgia Tech has failed to advance through an NCAA regional only twice in 24 tries, and only once since the NCAA went to a six-regional qualifying format in 2009. Heppler's teams have won five regional tournaments outright and tied for one title, most recently in 2014.
The NCAA began using regional qualifying tournaments in 1989, first with the 81 teams split among three sites (27 teams each), then with six sites with either 13 or 14 teams each beginning in 2009.
Since the NCAA went to six regional sites in 2009, Tech has finished third (Bowling Green, Ky.), third (Milton, Ga.), tied for third (Radford, Va.), sixth/did not advance (Norman, Okla.), fourth (Tallahassee, Fla.) and first (Raleigh, N.C.).
Tech's first four victories all occurred in 27-team regionals in 1991 (New Haven, Conn.), 1998 (Daufuskie Island, S.C.), 1999 (Providence, R.I.) and 2002 (Roswell, Ga., tied with Clemson). Only the 2014 win occurred in a 13-team field.
TEAM UPDATE - Georgia Tech has moved up to 10th in this week's Golfstat ranking and No. 10 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. The Yellow Jackets won last week's Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, their second consecutive victory this spring, coming against a field that included nine teams in the nation's top 50. Tech also won the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate at Columbus, Ohio by 16 strokes over No. 28 SMU, and tied No. 25 Alabama for second place the week before at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tenn. This spring, Tech has two runs, two runner-up finishes, one fourth-place and one 10th-place showing. Six of Tech's seven spring tournaments have featured at least eight teams which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation, against whom the Jackets have a 59-26-3 record this year. Tech's schedule is ranked the eighth-most difficult in the nation according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.
TECH LINEUP - Senior All-Americans Ollie Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Anders Albertson (Woodstock, Ga.) anchor the Tech travel squad for the ACC Championship. The four-year teammates won the last three ACC individual crowns and have nine career collegiate titles between them. Both were named to the All-ACC team this week, with Schniederjans earnined ACC Player of the Year honors for the second straight year.
Albertson has been particularly strong of late, with victories at the ACC Championship and Robert Kepler Intercollegiate in Tech's last two events, along with three other top-10 finishes and two 11th-place ties in his last seven events dating back to Tech's last fall event in Hawai'i. Albertson has matched or broken par in 17 of the 21 rounds and averaged 69.67 over that stretch. Schniederjans, a six-time winner in the last two years, has rebounded from a poor finish at the Valspar Collegiate to tie for sixth place at the Mason Rudolph, tie for third at the Robert Kepler, one shot behind co-medalists and teammates Albertson and Vincent Whaley, and finish fourth at the ACC Championship. Schniederjans remains Tech's scoring average leader for the year at an even 69.90.
Whaley (McKinney, Texas), who has played in seven events this year, earned a share of the victory at the Kepler with 5-under-par 208, one week after tying for 11th with scores of 69-73-73, both performances coming on difficult golf courses. He ranks fifth on Tech's team with a 72,79 stroke average.
Freshmen James Clark (Columbus, Ga.) and Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.), who each have one top-10 finish this year, round out the Tech lineup. Petefish has been the most consistent of Tech's four-man rookie class, averaging 71.95 to rank third on the team in stroke average. He tied for ninth at the Seminole Intercollegiate and has not finished lower than 29th in a tournament. Clark also tied for ninth at the Seminole, with four other finishes between 23rd and 37th.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS - "Anytime you finish with your academic requirements, your mood improves significantly. Everybody has worked hard. We've even had to rein them in a little bit so that we have something left for California. The guys love to practice. We're up in Alpharetta (off campus), and that's created even more cohesiveness because we're spending more time together."
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF - Georgia Tech's golf team is in its 20th year 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). For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.