Georgia Tech rides the surfboard as Maui Jim champions (GaTech photo)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (September 23, 2018) – Andy Ogletree birdied five of his final seven holes, and Tyler Strafaci scored three straight birdies at 15, 16 and 17 Sunday, leading No. 7 Georgia Tech from behind to capture the team title at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate at Mirabel Golf Club.
Georgia Tech began the round in third place and two strokes behind No. 19 Arizona State, but the Yellow Jackets’ closing score of 273 (-7) pushed them two strokes ahead of the Sun Devils, who played the back nine 1-over-par and posted a 3-under-par 277. Tech finished with a 54=hole score of 812 (-28), with ASU in second at 814 (-26).
It is the 54th tournament victory for Yellow Jackets in their 24th season under head coach Bruce Heppler, and it avenged a one-stroke loss to Arizona State in last year’s event.
The Yellow Jackets rallied by playing the back nine holes at Mirabel Golf Club in 9-under-par Sunday, piling up 15 birdies. Ogletree, 1-over for the round at the turn, began his surge with birdies at 12 and 13, and the junior from Little Rock, Miss., finished with birdies on his final two holes to card a 67, Tech’s top score on Sunday. He finished the tournament in a tie for 18th place at 5-under-par 205.
Likewise, Strafaci struggled early in the final round, 3-over at the turn, but birdied 15, 16 and 17 in succession and finished with an even-par 70. The junior from Davie, Fla., finished in a tie for sixth place individually at 8-under-par 202 with sophomore Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), who shot 2-under-par 68 Sunday.
No. 9 LSU, who led after the opening round and was tied with ASU to begin the final round, shot even-par 280 and wound up in third place at 817 (-23). The Tigers were followed by NC State (819, -21), No. 6 Auburn (921, -19) and No. 13 Clemson (823, -17).
In the individual competition, Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer shot 67-63-65 over the weekend to finish at 15-under-par 195, two strokes ahead of Arizona State’s Chun An Yu, who fired a 67 and finished at 13-under-par 197.
NC State’s Stephen Franken and Benjamin Shipp, along with Oregon’s Edwin Yi, tied for third place at 9-under-par 201. Strafaci and Norton were in a group of six players tied for sixth at 202 (-8).
ROUND TWO RECAP
A shootout is set up for the final round of the Maui Jim Invitational, with two teams tied for the lead and another just two shots behind.
Red numbers are everywhere, with 13 of the 14 teams in the field under par.
Round one leaders LSU shot a 6-under 274 to maintain a share of the lead at 23-under 537. Luis Gagne, who shot a career-best and school-record 62 on Friday, cooled off somewhat on Saturday with an even-par 70 and sits tied for 4th individually at 8-under 132.
Arizona State jumped into a tie for the lead with LSU on the strength of a 272, led by Chun An Yu who shot a 64 to take the individual lead at 11-under 129. Yu will carry a one-shot lead over Bryson Nimmer of Clemson, who shot the low round of the day, a 63. Shawn Lu of Oregon State is another shot back.
Georgia Tech sits just two shots back of the lead in solo third place, with North Carolina State in fourth and Auburn fifth. Seven teams are within 12 shots of the lead, and with half the field under par through two rounds, it will take a low final round to take the Maui Jim surfboard back to campus.
ROUND ONE RECAP
Luis Gagne had the best round of his collegiate career on Friday as he fired a school record 8-under par 62 at the Mirabel Golf Club. LSU, as a team, registered the second-best round in school history with a 17-under par 263 to end day one with the clubhouse lead.
Gagne’s day began with birdies on three of the first four holes to jump start his electric round. The Tigers started on the back nine and he birdied the 10th, 12th and 13th holes. His final birdie of his first nine came on his eighth hole of the day (No. 17) when he birdied the 561-yard par 5. On his second nine of the day Gagne proceeded to roll in five more birdies to go along with three pars and a bogey to finish off his round in fine fashion.
The native of Costa Rica matched Sam Burns’ school record of 62. The best round of Burns’ career came in 2016 at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic when he played the par 71 course to the tune of 9-under par. Gagne’s nine birdies on the day rank as the most in the tournament.
Gagne, who won this tournament in 2016, holds a one-stroke lead over Shawn Lu (-7) of Oregon State. Gagne took advantage of the par 4s on day one recording six of his nine birdies on the par 4s to lead the tournament in par-4 scoring (3.50 avg.).
The 17-under par 263 fired by the Tigers equaled the second-lowest round in program history; it matched the 17-under par 263 that the 2014 Tigers registered during the third round of the SEC Championship. The Tigers were two strokes off the lowest round in school history, a 19-under par 265 that LSU carded at The Prestige at PGA West in 2016.
Georgia Tech and Arizona State share second place at 15-under 265, with Augusta in fourth at 8-under 272.
The leaderboard is full of red numbers. Behind Gagne and Lu, there are nine players a 5-under 65. In all, 35 of the 78 players in the field shot under par in the first round.
Last year's individual champion Alex del Rey Gonzalez of Arizona State got off to a slow title defense, shooting a 2-over 72.