Alpharetta, Ga. - Georgia Tech's golf team, ranked No. 4 in the nation after winning twice this fall, takes on one of college golf's strongest fields this weekend in its final event of the fall season when it hosts the 12th annual Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate at the Golf Club of Georgia.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION -- The Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, formerly called the United States Collegiate Championship, is being played Friday through Sunday at the Golf Club of Georgia, which serves at the Yellow Jackets' home club. The tournament will be played exclusively on the 7,017-yard, par 72 Lakeside Course. Competition begins at 9 a.m. each day. Admission is free.
Virginia and Texas were co-champions of last year's tournament and are back to defend their share title, while Virginia's Jimmy Stanger and Oklahoma's Max McGreevy tied for medalist honors. Neither of the medalists are back to defend their titles. The field is traditionally one of the strongest in college golf, and 13 of the 15 teams this year are in the current Golfstat top 50. Four of those are ranked among the top 10, with five others in the top 25. Six of the teams in the field have combined to win 10 tournaments this fall. Twenty-four of the nation's top 100 players, as ranked by Golfstat, are in the field.
The field, in alphabetical order with current Golfstat ranking -- Clemson (16), Duke (30), East Tennessee State (97), Florida State (23), Georgia Tech (4), Oklahoma (5), Oklahoma State (3), Stanford (15), Texas (31), Texas A&M (2), TCU (43), UCLA (22), UNLV (39), Virginia (84), Wake Forest (11).
Tech is paired with Oklahoma State and Stanford for the first two rounds, teeing off at 9:55 a.m. each day off the first hole.
— Georgia Tech Golf (@GT_GOLF) October 17, 2017
TECH'S GOLF CLUB OF GEORGIA COLLEGIATE HISTORY -- Georgia Tech has won the USCC twice in its 10-year history, in 2010 and 2012. Clemson and Texas are the only other multiple winners, with the Tigers having captured the inaugural title in 2006 and again in 2009, and the Longhorns winning on 2014 and sharing the title with Virginia last year. James White, who set tournament records for 18-hole score (62) and 54-hole score (204, broken in 2014), won medalist honors in 2010, while Ollie Schniederjans won it in 2013 for Tech's only individual titles. The Yellow Jackets finished 12th out of 17 teams last fall.
TEAM UPDATE -- Georgia Tech has won twice and finished second in its three fall events, leading to a national ranking of No. 4 in the first Golfstat rankings released this week and in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Index. The Yellow Jackets won the Carpet Capital Collegiate in a playoff over current No. 1-ranked Alabama to open the fall schedule. After finishing second by one stroke to 26th-ranked Arizona State in the Maui Jim Invitational, Tech came back to win the Franklin American Mortgage Collegiate by eight strokes over Mississippi last week.
Among the teams in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, Georgia Tech has the third-lowest average drop score (75.48), according to Golfstat, and the Yellow Jackets are 8-0-1 vs. top 25 teams, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.
TECH LINEUP -- All five of Georgia Tech's five competing players this week are ranked No. 116 or higher in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index, led by freshman Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), ranked No. 47 after two top-10 finishes and leading the Jackets in scoring average at 71.56 after three events. Norton's lowest finish has been a tie for 15th at the Carpet Capital Collegiate.
Sophomore Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.), with a 71.67 average and three top-15 finishes, is right behind Norton at No. 48. Sophomore Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.), who has finished 16th or better in all three tournaments and compiled a 71.89 average, is No. 71, and senior Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) is No. 74 after finishing third and leading the Jackets at the FAMC event at The Grove. Sophomore Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) is ranked No. 116.
Seniors Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.) and Michael Pisciotta (Alpharetta, Ga.) and junior Tyler Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) will compete as individuals this weekend. Petefish has played in all three tournaments this fall and posted a pair of top-20 finishes, while Pisciotta is playing in his second event.
COACH Bruce Heppler ON THE STRENGTH OF THE FIELD -- "I think our field this year is as strong as it has ever been, although the fact that they have combined to win 10 times this fall seems a bit unusual and is pretty significant. That makes this a big challenge on a great golf course, and we're looking forward to it. I think the golf course will get better and firm up each day. It might be a little soft right now given the weather we've had this fall. Based on the way we've played out there this fall, there could be some low scoring.
HEPPLER ON FRESHMAN Noah Norton -- "He was ranked No. 1 in the junior rankings right before he got here, so that comes with certain expectations. He played very well in the U.S. Amateur, and probably played as well as any junior golfer in the country over the last 18 months. So the expectation was that he could have an immediate impact for us. He has high expectations for himself. His goal is to win tournaments. He's shot some low scored around here, and every time you somebody come in and do that, it pushes everybody else. He's enthusiastic, and he's positive, and we all can't get enough of that."
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.