On Oct. 2nd, the Jackets traveled to Dallas, TX, to compete in the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational hosted at Shady Oaks Country Club in the Dallas Fort Worth Area. The Ben Hogan Collegiate traditionally grabs a large portion of the best teams in the nation — this year was no exception. The field was highlighted by five of the eight teams from NCAA match play in 2023, including the No. 2 University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 4 Vanderbilt Commodores (StrackaLine Collegiate Rankings Oct. 5). The Jackets were in for a grueling battle with the best if they were going to take home the top prize at the competition.
So far in the 2023 season, senior Christo Lamprecht has been an extremely reliable part of the Jackets’ team. Recently becoming the number one ranked amateur in the world according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), Lamprecht has continued to impress for the Jackets throughout the season. This tournament was no different. In the opening round, Lamprecht fired a team best 68 (-2) that vaulted him into a tie for ninth place with a host of other golfers. His round was highlighted by a hole out eagle on the par four 3rd hole as well as three birdies on his back nine. The issue the Jackets ran into was a lack of production behind Lamprecht. While sophomore Hiroshi Tai fired a 69 (-1), everyone else shot over par leading to an opening round score of 283 (+3) putting them in seventh place. As common in many collegiate tournaments, the second round began right after the first one concluded.
Unfortunately, the Jackets started slow in the second round. Freshman Carson Kim — in just his second collegiate start — struggled, posting a six over 76 while sophomore Aidan Tran tallied a four over 74. With these rounds, the Jackets lost some ground on the field, falling into a tie for eleventh place heading into the final round. Unlike most of the team, Lamprecht once again proved why he is the number one player in the world, shooting a gritty one under 69 that featured 15 pars. Lamprecht entered the final round six shots behind, still tied for ninth as an individual.
Even a six shot deficit was not going to deter Lamprecht from making a run at the title and an exemption into the 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge. Starting on Hole 10 in the final round, he birdied three of his first four holes to get off to a fiery start. While Lamprecht cooled down a touch, he was still able to card a bogey free 66 (-4) that put him into a tie for first with 13th-ranked amateur Cole Sherwood from Vanderbilt. The pair returned to the 18th hole in a sudden death playoff to decide the victor and unfortunately for Lamprecht, Sherwood knocked his approach tight and drained a 10 foot birdie putt to capture the title. While Lamprecht was not able to get the exemption into the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge, he still helped his team place eighth overall, which wasn’t bad for one of the best fields of the college golf year. In the final round, the Jackets posted a 279 (-1) which was their best round of the week. 5th year senior Bartley Forrester put together a two over par round of 72, and Tai carded a one over round of 71. While the team may not have had a top finish, Lamprecht’s stellar play provided a spark that the team would utilize in the coming weeks.
The Jackets then hosted the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, GA, and battled against some of the best competition in the nation. With Tech hosting the event, Head Coach Bruce Heppler listed two teams, an A and B team, to take on their home course.
After struggling to get a cohesive team effort in Texas, the Jackets’ A team came out of the gates fast with each player carding a round of even or better. Led by seniors Aidan Kramer and Tai, the A team posted a first round score of 283 (-5), to stick them right in the middle of the pack. In the following round, Lamprecht disappointingly carded a four over 76 that included two double bogeys. Even with this poor showing by Lamprecht, it didn’t prevent the Jackets’ A team from rising the board, as they found themselves in third place, trailing the first place East Tennessee State Buccaneers by seven strokes. A terrific final round would be necessary in order for Tech to knock off the 11th ranked team in the nation.
Before Tech even teed off in the final group on Sunday, the University of Virginia had begun their final round comeback. Headed by last year’s ACC Freshman Player of the Year Ben James, Deven Patel and Paul Chang, the Cavaliers instantly started their run.
Fueled with frustration from his previous round, Lamprecht didn’t want to see his ACC foes run away with a title. An eagle on the par five first hole immediately put him and Tech in red figures, attempting to give them the spark to combat UVA’s momentum. The two chasers, Tech and UVA quickly found themselves close to the top with ETSU, but three four under back nines by the Cavaliers put them out front. Tech needed some fireworks on the par five 18th hole to knock off the ultra hot Cavaliers. Even with birdies from Kramer and Lamprecht, bogeys from both Forrester and Tai ruined any chances at chasing down UVA. Although Tech wasn’t able to come out on top, they had their best round of the week as a team shooting 279 (-9) and finished at 19 under overall, just six shots behind the Cavaliers.
While Tech’s B team didn’t have the same fortune as their A team, there were many bright spots including a great final round led by sophomore Brady Rackley, freshman Carson Kim and senior Andy Mao. The Jackets will round out their fall schedule playing in the East Lake Cup at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, GA, and the Cypress Point Classic at the Cypress Point Golf Club in Pebble Beach, CA.