THE FLATS - Georgia Tech’s golf team, having risen to No. 6 in the nation after posting a victory and a second-place finish this fall, travels to College Grove, Tenn., this weekend for its third fall tournament, the Franklin American Mortgage Collegiate hosted by Middle Tennessee State.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – The Franklin American Mortgage Intercollegiate begins Sunday and runs through Tuesday at The Grove Club in College Grove, Tenn., a venue which hosted one of the six NCAA regional tournaments last May. This is the fourth year of the tournament, which was previously won by Ohio State, Kentucky and Ole Miss. The Grove, designed by Greg Norman, is 7,368 yards long and plays to a par of 72. The event is hosted by Middle Tennessee State’s golf program, whose head coach, Brennan Webb, was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech from 2012-15 and helpd Bruce Heppler lead the Jackets to two ACC Championships and two appearances in the match play portion of the NCAA Championship.
The 12-team field includes host Middle Tennessee State, Charleston, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Louisiana, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, South Dakota State, South Florida and Troy. The Yellow Jackets are paired with South Florida in the opening round Sunday, and with host MTSU in round 2 Monday.
TEAM UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets, ranked 18th in the pre-season poll of the Golf Coaches Association of America, now sit at No. 6 in the same poll (and No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index) after winning the Carpet Capital Collegiate and finishing second in the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in September. The Jackets finished behind Arizona State, ranked No. 15, at the Maui Jim, which was held in Arizona, and defeated top 25 teams Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee, among others at the Carpet Capital Collegiate.
All five Tech players finished under par in the Carpet Capital Collegiate, with a high kickout score of 74, and three Jackets finished 16th or higher at the Maui Jim Invitational. Tech’s average round in the six it has played has been 284.67, more than three strokes under par.
TECH LINEUP – Head coach Bruce Heppler will take the same top four players who competed in the first two events – Sophomores Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) and freshman Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.) to The Grove along with senior Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.). Senior Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.) will compete as an individual.
Strafaci, who tied for 15th at the Carpet Capital and finished fourth at the Maui Jim, and Norton, who tied for 15th and 8th in those events, both have stroke averages under 71 over six rounds. They are ranked No. 39 and 54 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index. Schniederjans, whose final round 68 propelled Tech to its victory at the Carpet Capital, sits at an even 72, and Andy Ogletree, who tied for seventh at the Carpet Capital, averages 72.17. Joiner tied for 22nd as an individual at the Maui Jim, his only action so far.
COACH Bruce Heppler SAYS – “We like to play three-day, rather than two-day events, and this one fit nicely into our fall schedule, with fall break happening Monday and Tuesday. [Our former assistant coach] Brennan Webb is trying to build his program and asked us to come play, and we want to support him. We spent a day up there last spring thinking we might be placed in their regional, and it’s a really good golf course. It’s got some length to it. The greens look very innocent, but if you don’t put your ball in the right places, it can roll off. The greens are firm and can present some difficult pitch shots, so that’s where the course is hard. It will be a good test.
“We haven’t seen some of the other teams [around us in the poll], but from having watched us play, and comparing them to some of our past teams and player, I think we have a world of ability physically. We’ve still got some growing up to do, we’re playing with three sophomores and a freshman. But I’ve seen a lot of good things so far in the tournaments that we’ve played.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 23rd under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 51 tournaments in his tenure. 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.