Georgia Tech is making its 14th appearance all-time in the event and third in the last six years. The Yellow Jackets finished fourth in their last visit there in the spring of 2015. The 54-hole event runs from Friday through Sunday at the 7,172-yard, par 72 Southwood Golf Club.
Three of the 12 teams in the field are ranked among the nation’s top 50 in the Golfstat rankings, six in the top 100, with Tech ranking highest at No. 25, followed by host Florida State (30), Jacksonville (31), Penn State (54), James Madison (57) and Troy (88). George Mason, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, VCU, West Virginia, Western Carolina, Western Kentucky and Winthrop round out the field.
The Yellow Jackets finished fourth in the 17-team field in its last appearance in the event in February of 2015. Four members of Tech’s current team played in that event, with James Clark and Chris Petefish tying for ninth place (211, -5), Michael Hines tying for 48th (220, +4) and Jacob Joiner tying for 67th (225, +9).
Georgia Tech is ranked No. 25 in both the latest Golfstat rankings and No. 23 Golfweek/Sagarin Index after the first two spring events. The Yellow Jackets tied for seventh place in a 21-team field at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii and tied for third among 15 teams at the Puerto Rico Classic. Tech has a 41-28-5 won-loss record cumulatively this year against a scheduled rated the eighth-toughest in the country, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Index (doesn’t include Cyrpess Point match play event in the fall). The Yellow Jackets posted high finishes of fifth place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and sixth in the Maui Invitational in the fall.
Head coach Bruce Heppler will again go with a core of three freshmen in Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.), Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) in his starting five for the Seminole Intercollegiate, joining senior Vince Whaley (McKinney, Texas) and junior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.). Junior Jacob Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.) will compete as an individual.
Schniederjans won his second collegiate title of the year at Puerto Rico, firing a final round 65 to elevate himself from sixth place after 36 holes and take a one-stroke victory (10-under-par 206). He currently sports a team-best 70.80 stroke average and is ranked No. 32 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index.
The ever-improving Strafaci posted his first top-20 finish (T13) at the Amer Ari Invitational, firing a 54-hole total of 208 (-8), and slipped to 48th in Puerto Rico. Ogletree earned his highest finish of the year with a tie for 12th in Puerto Rico go with a tie 22nd place in Hawai’i.
Clark tied for 40th in Puerto Rico and 27th in Hawai’i, and owns an even 72.00 stroke average. Whaley, a two-time winner in his college career, is making his first start as a counting member of the team since the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in the fall where he tied for 19th.
COACH BRUCE HEPPLER SAYS – “It’s an easy trip, fits our schedule and makes sure we have days to practice and stay current with our school work. It’s hosted by a conference school which has a good program, and we assume the weather will be good to play golf. The freshmen have played really well and deserve to be in the starting lineup at this point. We’re adding who was our best player last year and hasn’t played in a while, and has earned his way back into the lineup. He’s won two college tournaments in his career. We just need him to return to what he has been. We’re looking forward to having him on the road, and he’s worked hard to figure some things out. He’s a big part of this and we need him to be going forward.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 22nd 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.