@GT_Golf No. 3 in Pre-Season Rankings
Schniederjans favorite to be collegiate player of the year
THE FLATS - It is no surprise that Georgia Tech All-American Ollie Schniederjans is the pre-season favorite to be the college player of the year, but after the loss of three seniors from 2014-15, the Yellow Jackets are No. 3 in the pre-season by Golfweek magazine and the Golf Coaches poll.
Tech enjoyed a tremendous year in 2013-14, winning six tournaments, the most for the program since 2001-02, including its seventh Atlantic Coast Conference title in the last nine years. The Yellow Jackets went on to win the NCAA Raleigh Regional and advance to match play at the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in five years.
Head coach Bruce Heppler's team accomplished all that due in no small part to the contribution of three seniors - Seth Reeves, a second-team All-American, Bo Andrews and Richard Werenski. All three graduated in May, and Reeves and Werenski have begun their pro careers.
Tech returns Schniederjans for his senior season, and also a three-time All-ACC performer in senior Anders Albertson to anchor what otherwise is a young and inexperienced lineup. Schniederjans successfully defended his title in last weekend's Carpet Capital Collegiate, his sixth career victory, and Albertson tied for 18th after closing rounds of 67-70, helping lift the Yellow Jackets to a second-place finish.
The Jackets have already gotten a boost from another senior, Drew Czuchry, who had played in just four events in his Tech career before winning the team's qualifying tournament. He counted for the Yellow Jackets two of the three days at last weekend's Carpet Capital Collegiate and recorded a career-high finish of T32. Heppler also was encouraged by the performances of sophomores Michael Hines, who counted twice for Tech and tied for 46th, and Vincent Whaley, who tied for 23rd competing as an individual.
"We had some guys who haven't played a lot of college golf get in the middle of a race," said Heppler, "and we were in the mix all day long on Sunday. There was a lot of positive stuff there. You can't create pressure at home (in qualifying), so it was great to have them in the mix on the final round and have them realize they can be part of a good team."
Beyond that, Tech will need help from a strong freshman class that includes four players ranked among the nation's top 50 juniors. Jacob Joiner rose to the top of that group by qualifying for the U.S. Amateur in August and grabbing a spot on the travel team for the Carpet Capital Collegiate with a fourth-place finish in team qualifying. He closed with a 72 at the Carpet Capital.
KUCHAR, TRINGALE COME HOME
Former Georgia Tech All-Americans Matt Kuchar and Cameron Tringale survived the first three weeks of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs and made it to Atlanta this weekend to play in the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club, one of the Yellow jackets' home courses.
Kuchar stands eighth in FedEx Cup points and shares the lead on Tour this year with 11 top-10 finishes. He tied for fifth at The Barclays, tied for 29th at the Deutsche Bank Championship and tied for 46th at the BMW Championship. Kuchar has used two different caddies during the playoffs while his regular looper, Lance Bennett, has taken time off after the sudden death of his wife. Kuchar is paired with Jim Furyk and will tee off at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Tringale is making his first appearance in the Tour Championship, boosted by a tie for second in The Barclays three weeks ago. He stands 19th in FedEx Cup points, has eight top-25 finishes this year and more than $1.9 million in earnings. He has been paired with Georgia alumnus Russell Henley at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
CASTRO, MATTESON, WEIBRING IN WEB.COM TOUR FINALS
Roberto Castro, Troy Matteson and Matt Weibring begin the third leg of the Web.com Tour Finals Thursday with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship at The Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio.
Castro, working to regain his PGA Tour card after finishing outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup points this year, begins the weekend No. 37 Web.com priority ranking, while Weibring stands 39th. The top 25 in earnings from the regular season have gained their Tour cards for 2014-15, while the top 50 following this four-event series will have at least limited status.
The Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University is a familiar place to Matteson and Weibring, who played the course in the 2002 NCAA Championship. Matteson won the individual title while the Yellow Jackets finished second.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech's golf team is in its 20th year under head coach Bruce Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have won 15 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 27 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.