THE FLATS – Finishing off a busy month of February to begin its spring golf season, Georgia Tech’s 8th-ranked golf team travels West once again to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas, Nev. The tournament begins Sunday and runs through Tuesday, 18 holes each day.
Coming off a runner-up finish at the Watersound Invitational last week, head coach Bruce Heppler has six Yellow Jackets competing in a 15-team field that includes nine teams in the Golfstat top 25. The Yellow Jackets rallied from an eight-shot deficit to nearly overtake No. 1 Vanderbilt in the final round at the Watersound event, but came up one stroke short.
Tee times begin at 12 p.m. Eastern time each day, with groups teeing off both No. 1 and No. 10 tees.
The Southern Highlands Collegiate is Tech’s third tournament this month. The first event, the Amer Ari Intercollegiate Feb. 6-8, was canceled due to high winds, and the Yellow Jackets wound up playing a single match against No. 20 Texas to salvage the week in Hawai’i. The Longhorns prevailed, 4-1-1.
TEAM UPDATE – Tech’s performance at the Watersound Invitational bumped the Yellow Jackets from No. 12 to No. 8 in the latest Golfstat rankings. Head coach Bruce Heppler’s squad has not yet won an event on 2022-23, but has been a runner-up three times, including the Inverness Intercollegiate and its home Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational in the fall.
Heppler will send out the same starting lineup that competed in Hawai’i and Panama City Beach, including All-American Christo Lamprecht and fifth-year senior Connor Howe, who are the only Yellow Jackets to be a part of the starting five for each event this year.
Lamprecht, a 6-8 junior from South Africa who reached match play at the U.S. Amateur in August, fell short of winning his second tournament this year at the Watersound Invitational, taking runner-up honors. He earned his first collegiate victory at the Inverness Intercollegiate in the fall. Howe, from Ogden, Utah, tied for third at the Maui Jim and 14th at Inverness for his two best performances so far, and added a tie for 20th at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Also competing are freshman Hiroshi Tai of Singapore, a two-time winner in the fall (Maui Jim individual event, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate) before tying for ninth last week; senior Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.), who tied for seventh place at the Watersound event and tied for fifth at the Golf Club of Georgia; and senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), whose best finish in three fall events was a tie for sixth at the Ben Hogan Collegiate and tied for 14th at Watersound. Freshman Aidan Tran (Fresno, Calif.), who played three events in the fall with a high finish of 20th at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, is competing as an individual.
Lamprecht posted a runner-up finish at the Southern Highlands Collegiate last spring, while Forrester and Howe tied for 18th.
All of Tech’s starting five are ranked among Golfstat’s top 100 individuals and have compiled stroke averages of 71.07 or lower in the fall. Steelman is Tech’s top-ranked player in Golfstat at No. 21, while Lamprecht is No. 34, Tai is No. 58, Forrester is No. 63 and Howe is No. 85.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech is competing in the Southern Highlands Collegiate for the 19th time. The Yellow Jackets have won the event twice, in 2001 and 2002, but their fifth-place finish last spring is the best showing since then. Four Yellow Jackets, all of whom have competed on the PGA Tour, have captured medalist honors, beginning in 1992 when Stewart Cink and David Duval shared the title. Troy Matteson won a share of the title in 2002 with Florida’s Camilo Villegas, and Cameron Tringale win the tournament outright in 2009.
The tournament follows the traditional collegiate 54-hole, 5-count-4, stroke-play format, with 18 holes each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The event is conducted at Southern Highlands Golf Club, which measures 7,510 yards (par 72), the longest layout on the Yellow Jackets’ schedule. The individual champion will receive an exemption into the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in October.
The field includes No. 4 North Carolina, No. 7 Illinois, No. 8 Georgia Tech, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 11 Florida, No. 14 Pepperdine, No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 16 Texas, No. 25 San Diego State, Georgia, New Mexico, SMU, TCU, UCF and UNLV.
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 28th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 70 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 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 (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.
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