Georgia Tech stays ahead and claims NCAA Raleigh Regional
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Seth Reeves posted his third consecutive 2-under-par 69 Saturday, and Georgia Tech overcame gusty winds to shoot 1-over-par 285 and complete a 17-stroke victory at the NCAA Raleigh Regional.
Scores rose across the board Saturday in the changing breezes over the 7,213-yard, par-71 Lonnie Poole Golf Course, and the Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 5 in the nation according to Golfstat, held firm with an even-par 71 from Anders Albertson, a 1-over 72 from Ollie Schniederjans and a 2-over 73 from Richy Werenski.
After beginning the day 16 shots ahead of No. 8 Washington, the Yellow Jackets finished 54 holes at 27-under-par 825 and added a shot to their lead over the Huskies, who posted a 2-over 286 for the round and finished at 10-under-par 842. No. 20 Texas A&M (849, -3), Kentucky (856, +4) and No. 17 Florida State (860, +8) finished third, fourth and fifth and joined Tech and Washington in qualifying for the NCAA Championship finals, which begin next Friday at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
It was a complete performance for the Yellow Jackets, who placed all five individuals in the top 15 and four of those in the top eight. Schniederjans, the ACC Player of the Year and Ben Hogan Award finalist, began the day with a one-stroke lead and was tied with Washington's Jordan Sanders at 9-under-par when they came to the 15th hole Saturday. But the Huskies' sophomore (10-under-par 203) ran off a string of three straight birdies and captured medalist honors by three shots over the Tech junior (7-under 206).
"We know we have a good team, five guys who can shoot under par and are capable of winning the tournament," said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. "We're in a good place. The golf course was a challenge, and everybody played well and was involved. We ready and excited to go to Prairie Dunes.
"There are some tee shots here that if you don't hit them where you need to, the holes can play very hard. The breeze today was a challenge, but it's a good, hard golf course."
In winning its the fifth NCAA regional title in its history (1991, 1998, 1999, 2002 previously), Tech set all-time bests for 54-hole score (825), widest margin of victory (17 strokes) and best single-round score (16-under 268 in the opening round). Tech's 27-under-par total missed by two the mark for low score in relation to par. The win was the Yellow Jackets' sixth of the year, one shy of the school record set by the 2001-02 team, which was runner-up at the NCAA championship.
Reeves, an All-ACC senior from Duluth, Georgia, got hot and had a share of the lead at one point on the back nine Saturday, but settled back into a tie for third place with Texas A&M's Adria Arnaus (6-under-par 207). Bo Andrews, the Tech senior from Raleigh who began the round in a tie for second place after rounds of 67-68, struggled to a 74 Saturday and tied for sixth place with Wake Forest's Cyrus Stewart (4-under-par 209). Albertson, an All-ACC junior from Woodstock, Georgia, finished alone in eighth place with a 2-under-par total of 21, while Werenski tied for 15th place at 214 (+1).
"It's awesome to win here," Schniederjans said. "It's as good as we can feel going into the big one. We have a great chance (at the finals), and it's the one that matters."
The 30 teams who have advanced from the six regional tournaments this weekend will begin 54 holes of stroke play Friday. The top eight teams in stroke play competition will advance to the match play bracket which begins May 27.
Before that, Schniederjans flies to Fort Worth, Texas for Sunday night's Ben Hogan Award banquet with fellow finalists Patrick Rodgers and Cameron Wilson of Stanford.