Georgia Tech's Hiroshi Tai Wins NCAA Golf Championship

TIM COWIE/TODD DREXLER PHOTOGRAPHY

What a moment it was on Monday night for Georgia Tech golfer Hiroshi Tai.

Tai became the Yellow Jackets’ fourth national collegiate champion on Monday after carding a 1-under-par 71, and the Yellow Jackets shot a 4-over-par 292 as a team, advancing to the match-play portion of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship for the second straight year.

Georgia Tec now has a national champion in 2024.

Tech is in the match play bracket for the sixth time since the NCAA introduced the format in 2009, but this one came in the unlikeliest of ways after the Yellow Jackets lost their All-American Christo Lamprecht to a back injury after the opening round. The Jackets face top seed Illinois, which scored a 16-stroke victory in the team race, at 9:50 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday morning.

Tai, who was 6-under-par for the tournament and had a two-stroke lead, nearly saw his and his team’s hopes derailed when he put his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the next-to-last hole of the round, the par-3 8th, and made triple bogey. The development left him one shot behind individually at 3-under-par, and the Yellow Jackets dropped out of the top eight on the leaderboard.

Tai got up and down on the last hole for par, and his teammates ahead of him made similar par-saving shots at the final two holes to keep the Jackets alive. Freshman Carson Kim (Yorba Linda, Calif.) chipped in for a birdie at the 8th, the same hole Tai tripled, while senior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) and freshman Aidan Tran (Fresno, Calif.) escaped trouble at the final hole by also getting up and down from off the green.

“Means a lot to me (to win the title),” said Tai. “All the guys on the team have really helped me a lot in my past two and a half years here now. That includes not just the six guys here, but all the guys back home as well. They are the best friends of my life and I am really grateful for the relationships I have been able to make because of coach [Bruce Heppler] and him having me here.”

Tai joins Watts Gunn (1927), Charlie Yates (1934) and Troy Matteson (2002) as national collegiate champions from Georgia Tech.

The winner of the Tech-Illinois match will face the winner of the quarterfinal contest between No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Florida State in the semifinal round. On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed Vanderbilt will take on No. 7 Ohio State, while No. 3 Virginia meets No. 6 Auburn, both matches starting at 10:40 a.m. EDT, with the winners facing each other in the other afternoon semifinal. Semifinal matches begin at 3:45 p.m. EDT.

Golf Channel’s live coverage of the quarterfinals begins at 1 p.m. EDT, and the semifinals at 6 p.m. EDT.

(All Stats and Info courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics)


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Jackson Caudell

JACKSON CAUDELL

Jackson Caudell covers Georgia Tech Athletics and the Atlanta Hawks for FanNation