THE FLATS – After making four cross country trips this spring to play tournaments, Georgia Tech stays on the East Coast for its seventh event on the schedule, competing in the Calusa Cup beginning Sunday at Calusa Golf Club in Naples, Fla.
Head coach Bruce Heppler will take five players to the tournament, which is the Yellow Jackets’ final event before the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship toward the end of April. Tech has played six times this spring, more than most of the teams in the nation’s top 25, finishing as high as third (Amer Ari Intercollegiate), first (Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate) and second (Linger Longer Invitational) among those events. The Yellow Jackets’ slate includes seven events prior to the ACC Championship, which will be played April 23-26 at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech was slated to participate in the inaugural Calusa Cup last spring before COVID-19 forced cancellation of the spring schedule. The event features a limited, but strong field with five of the nine teams currently residing in the top 25 of the Golfstat rankings, including No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 7 Wake Forest, No. 8 Texas and No. 14 Florida. Who have 11 tournament victories between them this spring. Georgia Tech is No. 42, while Iowa, the host team, is ranked No. 46, Purdue is No. 55 and Marquette is No. 100.
The tournament will be played at Calusa Country Club, which measures 7,203 yards and plays to a par of 72. Play begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time Sunday and Monday, with the final round starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Each team will have five players competing with the low four scores counting toward the team total each day, and the tournament will be 54 holes, 18 each on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Noah Norton is Georgia Tech’s highest-ranked player and stroke average leader, with three top-10 finishes this spring. (photo by Clyde Click)
TEAM UPDATE – Heppler’s 26th Yellow Jacket team is much younger than the one whose 2020 spring was abruptly ended last March. This year’s roster did not play any events in the fall and collectively had seen action in a total of 54 collegiate events – 160 rounds – prior to the start of this spring season. Tech’s two elder statesmen, senior Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.) and junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah), had played 118 of those 160 rounds combined. Beyond that, the rest of Tech’s roster is quite green. No player on Tech’s current team is ranked among Golfstat’s top 100 individuals – in fact, Norton is the highest ranked at No. 175.
After missing Tech’s first spring event, freshman Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) has been a regular in the Yellow Jackets lineup, while senior Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.) and red-shirt sophomore Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.), neither of whom had played as a counting member of the lineup, have made four and five starts, respectively.
Tech also relies on redshirt sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.), who owns the Jackets’ only collegiate victory but has only 27 collegiate rounds under his belt, junior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) and sophomore Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.).
TECH LINEUP – Tech’s lineup for the Calusa Cup includes Norton, Lamprecht, Howe, Lamprecht, Dickson and Smith.
Norton – Two-time All-ACC honoree … Has top-10 finishes in three of five events, including a runner-up at the Wyomng Desert Intercollegiate and a tie for third in the Linger Longer Invitational, giving him 11 career top-10 finishes … Currently Tech’s scoring leader at 71.87 and is Tech’s highest ranked player in Golfstat (No. 175), Golfweek/Sagarin (No. 130) and PGA Tour University (No. 53) rankings … Advanced to match play (round of 32) at the U.S. Amateur last summer and earned his way into two Korn Ferry Tour events, tying for eighth place at the Wichita Open … No. 59 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Howe – Ranked No. 269 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index … Earned his first career top-10 finish with a tie for seventh at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate and has tied for 19th at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate and finished 26th at the Linger Longer Invitational since then … Has Tech’s third-lowest stroke average at 72.67 … Won the Southeastern Amateur last summer and tied for ninth at the Patriot All-America in December.
Lamprecht – At 6-foot-8, he may be the tallest player ever in the Tech golf program … Ranked No. 191 in the Golfstat rankings and No. 174 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings … No. 2 on the team in stroke average at 72.07 and has a pair of top-10 finishes in Tech’s– T-6 at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate and T-5 at the Linger Longer Invitational… No. 251 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and South Africa’s No. 2-ranked amateur.
Dickson – Has a pair of top-20 finishes to his credit this spring after seeing action in just two events over his career previously at Tech … Began to show promise last fall by finishing 13th or higher in all four amateur events he played, including a fourth-place effort in the Orlando International Amateur in December … Was Tech’s top finisher in both January events (15th at Camp Creek Invitational, 11th at Southwestern Invitational).
Smith – Has played in just two spring events – a tie for 20th finish at the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational and a tie for 32nd at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate, playing as an individual … Former Michigan Amateur Champion has 21 collegiate rounds under his belt in two-plus years … Had three top-15 finish in fall GCAA Amateur events, tied for fifth at Orlando International Amateur and sixth at South Beach Amateur in December.
“This is the last chance for us to see our guys compete before we decide on a lineup for the ACC Championship. Noah, Connor and Christo have played the best so far and the most consistently. Will didn’t play in our last tournament, and Ben hasn’t played since we went to Hawai’i, so they need a chance to get some more rounds under their belts and make a push. They both played very well in the amateur events in the fall and in December, so I’m hoping they can rise to that level.”
Head coach Bruce Heppler
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 26th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 65 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.