Waimea, Hawai’i – Noah Norton and Connor Howe carded season-low rounds of 66 and 67 Thursday, and the No. 20 Yellow Jackets posted a 9-under-par final round of 279 to finish in a tie for third place at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate.
Conditions remained warm and windy, but more consistent Thursday on the 6,875-yard, par-72 Hapuna Golf Course, as Tech equalled its birdie total from the first round (24). The Jackets were not able to gain ground on the leader, No. 10 Arizona State, which shot 12-under-par 276 and won the tournament by 12 strokes over Southern California. Tech finished tied with Oregon State, 27 strokes off the pace.
TECH LINEUP – Norton, a senior from Chico, Calif., reeled off seven birdies against one bogey to post his best round of the season to date, a 6-under-par 66 that was his best since carding a 65 in the fall of 2018, his sophomore year. Howe, a junior from Ogden, Utah, also had seven birdies on his card against a double-bogey for a 5-under-par 67, his best since posting a 66 in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Pullman Regional.
Howe finished tied for seventh place individually, the highest finish of his career, at 6-under-par 210, which matched his lowest career score in relation to par. Norton tied for 10th place, his ninth career top-10 finish and his best since a tie for ninth at the 2019 Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational.
Sophomore Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.) shot 72 Thursday for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and senior Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.) added a pair of 74s. Lamprecht closed the tournament solo 17th at 217 (+1), while Karaulic tied for 18th at 219 (+3), his best finish in three events this spring.
Sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) led Tech’s group of players competing as individuals Thursday, carding a 3-under-par 69 to earn a tie for 18th finish at 219 (+3). Sophomore Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.) shot 72 Thursday, while junior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) shot 74. Both players tied for 32nd place at 227 (+11).
Luka Karaulic earned his best finish in three events this spring (T18). (photo by Jeff Golden)
TEAM LEADERBOARD – No. 10 Arizona State, which had four of its five starters finish among the top 10 individuals on the final leaderboard, posted the best round of the day at 11-under-par 277 and finished the tournament at 827 (-37), earning a 12 stroke victory over Southern California, who closed with a 7-under-par 281 for a 54-hole total of 839 (-25). Three Trojans finished in the top 10.
Tech and Oregon State matched final rounds (279, -9) and 54-hole scores (854 (-10) to tie for third place. San Jose State shot a 6-over-294 Thursday and fell back to fifth place at 870 (+6), with Washington (878, +14), Hawai’i-Hilo (935, +71) and Hawai’i (938, +74) rounding out the field.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Arizona State’s David Puig shot a closing 68 and secured his second straight individual title with a 13-under-par score of 203, four shots clear of Southern California’s Sixian Guo and Arizona State’s Blake Wagoner, who each finished at 9-under-par 207.
The Sun Devils’ Ryggs Johnston finished alone in fourth place at 208 (-8), with USC’s Shane Ffrench and San Jose State’s Sean Yu tying for fifth place at 209 (-7).
Tech’s Connor Howe was one of three players tied for seventh at 210 (-6), and Noah Norton tied for 10th with two others at 211 (-5).
Fifteen of the 51 players in the field finished 54 holes under par.
“We were just a few shots away from having a great round, and the low round of the day, but lost a few on 18 again today. Noah and Connor played really well, which is important to our success. We’re getting better little by little and just need to keep working at it.”
Head coach Bruce Heppler
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech has played in the Amer Ari Intercollegiate every year since 1999. Tech has already played twice this spring, adding a pair of events to its spring slate after the fall season was cancelled. The 30th annual event is a 54-hole, 5-count-4 stroke-play tournament. The event this year was contested on Hapuna Golf Course (6,875 yards, par 72), rather than the usual Kings Course at the Waikoloa Beach Resort.
The Yellow Jackets have won this event five times, all between 2000 and 2007, and six Yellow Jackets have won or shared the individual title, including Matt Kuchar (shared title in 2000 and 2001), Carlton Forrester (shared title in 2000), Bryce Molder (shared title in 2001), Troy Matteson (2003) and Cameron Tringale (2007). Tech finished fifth last year in a 20-team field.
The change in venue is not the only effect of COVID on this year’s tournament. The field, still strong in quality, included just eight teams rather than the normal 20, with the Jackets joining Arizona State, Hawai’i, Hawai’i-Hilo, Oregon State, San Jose State. Southern California and Washington.
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 26th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 64 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.