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Georgia Tech golf holds on to ninth in NCAA tournament

Carlsbad, Calif. – Playing solidly for the second straight day without world No. 1 Christo Lamprecht, Georgia Tech posted a round of 4-over-par 292 Sunday and held its position, tied for ninth place, after 54 holes of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at the Omni LaCosta Resort and Spa. The Yellow Jackets will advance to compete in the final round of stroke play Monday.

Sophomore Hiroshi Tai (Singapore) shot a bogey-free 2-under-par 70, while freshman Kale Fontenot (Lafayette, La.) delivered a 1-under-par 71 to keep their team steady, and the Yellow Jackets largely avoided the pitfalls of the rugged stretch of holes 12 to 17 that undermined Saturday’s second round.

Tech, at 21-over-par 885 for the championship, finished its round comfortably above the 54-hole cutline and stands just one stroke out of eighth place in a bid to reach the match play bracket for the second straight year. Tai, who has a tournament total of 214 (-2), enters Monday’s round just three strokes off the individual lead.

“They’ve played hard. We really had it going again today,” said head coach Bruce Heppler of his team’s performance competing without its best player. “That closing stretch is tough, and we missed some putts coming in, but they’ve had stretches where they’ve played as good as anybody in the field. It’s pretty impressive what they’ve done. (Without Lamprecht), now you’re throwing three guys out there who’ve never played in an NCAA Tournament before the last two rounds. Whether (Lamprecht) plays or not, it doesn’t really matter. We’ll give it a go.”

The 15 surviving teams and individuals will play a fourth and final round of stroke play Monday, beginning at 1:45 p.m. EDT, to determine the individual champion and the eight teams that advance to the match play bracket. The Yellow Jackets will start their round on the 10th tee beginning at 1:56 p.m. EDT, paired with Texas and Baylor. Golf Channel’s live coverage begins at 6 p.m. EDT.

Of Lamprecht’s chances of returning to action Monday, Heppler said, “I think he feels better. The spasming is gone, but now there’s just pain and stiffness. We’ll do some more treatment and see if we can get him ready. He really wants to play tomorrow. I’m watching him walk up the hill, and it doesn’t look good. Then you’ve got to get through the pain of it all.”

TECH LINEUP – Tai birdied the par-4 4th hole Sunday and the par-5 10th, which he has done in all three rounds. The sophomore used his strong short game and lag putting to avoid trouble through the 12-to-17 stretch, and reached the par-5 18th in three shots to finish with an easy par. He is tied for fourth place at 2-under-par 214 with a legitimate chance to win medalist honors on Monday, and remains tied for the tournament lead in par-5 scoring (-6) and is tied for second in birdies (12).

Fontenot played flawless golf on the front nine, posting birdies at 1, 4 and 7, all par 4. His first bogey came at the par-3 12th, where three of his teammates also made bogey, and he double-bogeyed the treacherous par-4 15th. But the freshman went par-birdie-par coming in to finish his 69 and is tied for 60th place individually.

Freshman Carson Kim (Yorba Linda, Calif.) posted a 75, and senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) a 76 to count toward the Jackets’ team total, while sophomore Aidan Tran (Fresno, Calif.) shot 77 for the second straight day standing in for Lamprecht.

TEAM LEADERBOARD – Illinois outpaced the field Sunday, coming in at 6-under-par 282 to take over the team lead from 36-hole leader Virginia, who shot 3-over-par. The Illini are the only team under par for 54 holes at 2-under-par 862, and lead the Cavaliers (868, +4) by six strokes and Vanderbilt (873, +9) by 11 heading into Monday’s final round.

Florida State (+10), Ohio State (+13), North Carolina (+15), Auburn (+15) and defending champion Florida (+20) make up the rest of the top eight. The Seminoles (-2) and Gators (-1) each came in under par for Sunday’s round.

Tech and Arizona are tied for ninth at 885 (+21).

Texas (+23), Baylor (+24), Oklahoma (+25), Tennessee and East Tennessee State (both +27) round out the 15 teams advancing to Monday.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Ohio State’s Adam Wallin (211, -5), whose Buckeyes are in fifth place in the team race, carded a 3-under-par 69 Sunday and took over the individual lead Sunday by two over Virginia’s Ben James and Stanford’s Karl Vilips, both at 3-under-par 213.

Tech’s Hiroshi Tai, Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent and Illinois’ Max Herendeen are tied for fourth place at 214 (-2), and five other players are tied for seventh at 215 (-1).

Vilips, who held a five-stroke lead after 36 holes, shot 76 Sunday but will stay on to compete for the individual title Monday after his Cardinal team posted a 19-over-par round and missed the cut.

TECH’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

Georgia Tech is one of only three teams to make the 54-hole cut in each of the last four NCAA Championships (North Carolina and Vanderbilt are the others), and last year advanced to match play where the Yellow Jackets defeated Pepperdine and North Carolina before losing to Florida in the championship match. In stroke play, Tech finished 15th in 2021, 12th in 2022 and second in 2023.

Lamprecht finished 44th, 32nd and 40th in his three trips around Grayhawk, while Forrester placed 75th, 15th and 55th. Tai is the only other Yellow Jacket with NCAA Championship experience, tying for 58th as a freshman last year.

Tech has reached the NCAA Championship finals 32 times since 1985 (33 times in program history), which is the fifth most in that time period behind Oklahoma State (37), Arizona State (35), Florida (35) and Texas (35).

The Yellow Jackets have qualified for match play five times since the advent of the stroke-play/match-play format in 2009, finishing third in stroke play in 2010, second in 2011, second in 2013, fifth in 2014 and tied for fifth in 2023.

Tech has been the runner-up in the NCAA Championship five times (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005 before the introduction of match play, and again in 2023). Only Oklahoma State, which has 18, and Texas (6) have more.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION

Finals play consists of three days of stroke play (Friday through Sunday), 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 27 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 28, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 29.

Golf Channel will air live coverage of the NCAA Championship, beginning with Monday’s final round of stroke play and continuing through the entire match play bracket.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Monday, May 27 – Stroke play round 4, 1:30 p.m. EDT

Tuesday, May 28 – Match play quarterfinals, 9:20 a.m. EDT

Tuesday, May 28 – Match play semifinals, 3:45 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, May 29 – Championship match, 4:35 p.m. EDT