Scottsdale, Ariz. – Ross Steelman continued to pace Georgia Tech Saturday by firing a 1-under-par 69 in demanding afternoon conditions, leading the No. 11 seed Yellow Jackets to a 6-over-par 286 score and a tie for third place after 36 holes at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship.
Steelman remains atop the individual leaderboard at 7-under-par 133 with a three-stroke lead over Daniel Rodrigues of Texas A&M, who shot 66 Saturday, and Adrien Dumont De Chassart of Illinois, who shot 68. He is bidding to become the second Yellow Jacket to win an NCAA individual championship, following Troy Matteson in 2002. Matteson captured the 2002 title at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course as a member of one of the four Yellow Jacket teams to finish runner-up at the NCAA Championship. Watts Gunn (1927) and Charlie Yates (1934) also won national collegiate titles when the championship was conducted at match play prior to the NCAA taking sponsorship.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets slipped into a third-place tie with No. 2 seed North Carolina at 6-over-par 566 after the Tar Heels posted a 4-over-par round of 284. Illinois took advantage of benign morning conditions to shoot 7-under-par 273 and take the 36-hole lead at 2-under-par 558 and is the only team under par for 36 holes. No. 9 seed Florida shot 278 (-2) and moved into second place at 561 (+1).
Tech has advanced to match play four times at the NCAA Championship, and is looking to do so this week for the first time since 2014 at Hutchinson, Kan.
“It was good, obviously playing in the afternoon is a lot harder than the morning out here,” said Steelman of his round of 69. “So being able to throw up something under-par on the board was pretty big for the individual part as well as kind of giving the team a good block to build on. So we get to play in the morning tomorrow it looks like. It was pretty boring again, a lot of fairways, kind of hit it to 20-feet, roll a couple in and go from there.
“Going and getting some food, ample amounts of coffee tomorrow morning and that’ll be key. We’ll be ready to go, nothing gets the juices flowing like the national championship.”
Tech tees off at 6:32 a.m. local time (9:32 a.m. Eastern) Sunday morning on the 10th hole, paired with Pepperdine (566, +6) and top-seed Vanderbilt (568, +8), who sit fourth and fifth on the leaderboard. The Tar Heels won the tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets for the right to tee off the No. 1 tee Sunday based on cumulative drop scores for the first two rounds (148 to 149).
Tee times and pairings for the remaining rounds of stroke play are determined by team position on the leaderboard. Thirty teams are playing 54 holes Friday through Sunday, with the field cut to 15 for the final round of stroke play Monday, after which the individual champion will be crowned. The top eight teams after 72 holes will advance to a match play bracket to determine the team champion on Wednesday.
Highlights from Ross Steelman’s round
TECH LINEUP – Though the Yellow Jackets’ score Saturday was six strokes higher than Friday, it still was better than any of the eight rounds by Tech in the last two NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club.
Steelman extended his bogey-free streak to 27 holes with a spotless first nine holes Saturday that included birdies at 13 and 18. It came to an end when he made a 5 at the par-4 No. 1, and the senior from Columbus, Mo., played the front nine (his second nine) in 1-over-par.
His 69 was one of just five subpar rounds posted among the 15 teams that played in the afternoon.
Senior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) and freshman Hiroshi Tai (Singapore) contributed a pair of 72s (+2) to the Yellow Jackets’ round, while senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and junior Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) each shot 73 (+3). Howe and Forrester are both tied for 42nd place at 144 (+4).
Ross Steelman talks about his round and Tech’s morning tee time Sunday
TEAM LEADERBOARD – Morning tee times at Grayhawk are always advantageous, and No. 3 seed Illinois capitalized with four subpar scores – three 68s and a 69 – in posting its 7-under-par round of 273 Saturday. The stellar round pushed the Illini up eight spots on the leaderboard and three shots ahead of No. 9 seed Florida. The Gators were the best of the afternoon wave with a 2-under-par 278 with a pair of 68s to lead the way.
The Yellow Jackets and No. 2 seed North Carolina are tied for third at 566 (+6), while No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 1 Vanderbilt sit fifth and sixth and earned early tee times for Sunday’s third round.
The top 15 teams on the leaderboard after Sunday’s round will advance to Monday’s final round of stroke play. No. 7 Florida State and No. 15 Virginia are tied for seventh place at 571 (+11), while No. 14 Alabama and No. 4 Arizona State share ninth place at 572 (+12), and No. 12 Auburn and No. 13 Texas A&M are tied for 11th place at 574 (+14). No. 6 Stanford, No. 21 Georgia and No. 26 Brigham Young round out the top 15, tied at 576 (+16).
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Eight of the top 12 players on the leaderboard shot under par Saturday, with Tech’s Steelman following his opening 64 with a 69 to finish 36 holes at 7-under-par 133, three shots clear of Daniel Rodrigues of Texas A&M (66) and Adrien Dumont De Chassart of Illinois (68), who are tied at 136 (-4). Florida’s Fred Biondi shot 68 Saturday and holds solo fourth place at 137 (-3).
Ohio State’s Neal Shipley, North Carolina’s Dylan Menante and New Mexico’s Matthew Watkins are tied for fifth place at 138 (-2), and a group of five players share eighth place at 139 (-1).
NCAA Championship Round 2
Photos by Tim Cowie/Todd Drexler
CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION/FORMAT – Finals play consists of 72 holes of stroke play followed by an eight-team match play tournament. Stroke play begins Friday, May 26 and continued thru Sunday, May 29 (54 holes), after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team will be determined. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on Monday, May 30 to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play as well as the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by a match-play format that will consist of quarterfinals and semifinals conducted on Tuesday, May 30, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 31.
The entire championship is conducted on the Raptor course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., which measures 7,289 yards and plays to a par of 70. This is the last of three straight years that the Grayhawk will host the NCAA Championship. The championship moves to LaCosta Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., for the next three years (2024-26).
- Sunday, May 28 – Third round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 36-hole scores)
- Monday, May 29 – Final round of stroke play competition (tee times based on 54-hole scores)
- Tuesday, May 30 – Quarterfinals and semifinals of team match play
- Wednesday, May 31 – Championship match to determine team champion
TELEVISION – Golf Channel will air live coverage of the final round of stroke play Monday, May 29 (5-9 p.m. Eastern time), the team quarterfinals (12-3:30 p.m. ET) and semifinals (5-9 p.m. ET) on Tuesday May 30, and the team championship match Wednesday, May 31 (5-9 p.m. ET). Encore presentations will be aired at 10 p.m. each day. Read more details here.
TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – Georgia Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 32 times since 1985 (33 times in program history), which is tied for fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (36), Arizona State (35), Florida (34) and Texas (34), three of whom are in the field in Scottsdale.
The Yellow Jackets have qualified for match play four times since the advent of the stroke-play/match-play format in 2009, finishing third in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014. Tech lost in the quarterfinals each time, except for 2013, when the Jackets lost in the semifinals. Tech lost to the eventual champion three times in its four appearances in match play – Augusta State by the score of 3-2 in the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011 and to Alabama (3-0-2) in 2013.
Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship four times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005, all before the introduction of match play). Only Oklahoma State, which has 18, Texas (6) and Purdue (5) have more. The Yellow Jackets have finished in the top eight of stroke play 16 times.
In the two NCAA Championships played at Grayhawk Golf Club, Tech finished 15th in 2022 and tied for 12th last year.
Three Tech players have won national collegiate championships. Troy Matteson did it most recently in 2002 at Ohio State. Watts Gunn (1927) and Charlie Yates (1934) won national collegiate titles under a match play format before the NCAA took sponsorship of the championship in 1939.
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 72 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 32 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.