ATLANTA, GEORGIA - This summer, as we did last summer, Yellow Jacket Roundup will be taking a ten week hiatus as the summer sports break splits spring from fall and the academic year begins anew. Pretty much the same premise, expect this year, we have a better, and more alliterative name. We move on to the next to last sport left in action: golf.
When We Last Saw ‘Em:
If we take this question super literally, Andy Ogletree won the Monroe Invitational, so congrats to hime for that. His stock has steadily been rising since his first appearance, and he had previously topped out with a third place finish last summer. Meanwhile, Noah Norton made it through U.S. Open qualifying, along with alumni Matt Kuchar, first in the FedEx Cup standings and two time PGA weekend winner this year, Ollie Schniederjans, who finished hot on his heels in qualifying, Roberto Castro, and Chesson Hadley, and competed in his first major championship.
Tech’s championship lineup of freshman Connor Howe, sophomore Noah Norton, and seniors Andy Ogletree, Luke Schneiderjans, and Tyler Strafaci may have underperformed - Tech was ranked 7th in the country headed into the NCAA Championship yet missed match play, which is among the top 8 teams - but by no stretch of the imagination was this a waste of a year.
Shaking the demons of NCAA Regionals past is certainly the greatest among the accomplishments of this team. Though past Tech teams have also been solid, even top-ten ranked, ACC Champion squads couldn’t even make it into the top five in their regional competition. This team isn’t those past years though.
Not only did they win the ACC Championship again this year, tying Wake Forest for the most titles all-time, but they did it in record-shattering fashion. This Tech team was, by some measures, the most dominant we’ve had. But the problem is, there’s a tremendous level of quality depth, but there is not transcendent star on this lineup. When the Swingy Bois went silent on the last day of their season, Connor Howe turned in the best card at par, and no one else really shone. Schneiderjans swung from nearly a course record to over par the next day. That’s also partially just the nature of golf - winning a staggering number of tournaments doesn’t really matter in the postseason. Tech didn’t just bogey, they put up a few garish numbers. But, they’re coming out of it a more seasoned lineup. And every starting player on the team returns. And none of them were around the last time Tech advanced out of a regional in 2014, when they finished fifth.
It’s all mildly shocking that I can say all of these things - critical things - about a team ranked seventh, fourth, and fourth by the major golf rankings. I would argue that I’m being to hard on them, myself. I’ve been learning the game of golf in my time as the non-revenue writer, because I didn’t really grow up with it, and I guess I’m still looking to understand - how can the fourth best team just go cold? This is something I struggle with with this team. They played out of their minds for a weekend, then wilt into the NCAA Championship, then do only okay in that contest. I definitely don’t follow other college teams as closely as I do this one, to judge how prevalent this is. At least it wasn’t in the regional this year. Tech won six tournaments this year, the ACC Championship, and sent a player to the US Open. That’s a year to hang a proud hat on. It’s a step. And the gang’s all back for a run at a third straight ACC Championship next year, too. So the prevailing narrative is certainly pointing in the right direction.
Andy Mao (No. 5 Georgia, No. 63 2019, and No. 174 overall)
Various and Sundry:
- Stafaci and incoming freshman Andy Mao both also competed in the US Open sectional qualifying rounds.
- Freshman Howe cracked the starting lineup for the spring, joining the returning quartet of Schneiderjans, Strafaci, Ogletree, and Norton. He would go on to start the last six straight.
- Ogletree grades out to the 18th best player in the country, tops among Yellow Jackets. Again, this speaks to the tremendous depth of the team, with its top ten ranking.
- All four returners earned All-ACC selections.
Future Schedule Highlights:
We’ll host one in the fall in Alpharetta, and likely return to the Valspar Collegiate, Maui Jim, and Puerto Rico Classic, if past results are any indicators. A return to Clemson is likely, too. But we haven’t seen any schedules yet, so everything is admittedly pretty much just conjecture.
Buy: Why would someone buy into a team already at their peak, one might ask? Because they can do what they did this past spring and more, that’s why. Georgia Tech Golf returns all of its stacked starting lineup. And their reinforcements are decent, too. Only one freshman comes in, but only James Clark is out. Let these guys build on their solid foundation. Another ACC Championship, regional, and national appearance aren’t impossible by any stretch of the imagination.
June 10th - Track and Field June 17th - Men’s Golf
June 24th - Women’s Tennis
July 1st - Men’s Tennis
July 8th - Softball
July 15th - State of the Program
July 22nd - Women’s Basketball
July 29th - Cross Country
August 5th - Swimming and Diving
August 12th - Volleyball
If you have any insight you’d like to share on this, or any other program at Tech, leave a comment below. Be sure to tune in next week for another spring sport retrospective - Women’s Tennis.