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Hiroshi Tai Wins Individual Title, Helps Team Advance to Match Play

Georgia Tech's Hiroshi Tai wins the 2024 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Individual Title.

Today started with a playoff and it almost ended with one – almost. Hiroshi Tai of Georgia Tech was running away with the lead, making four birdies and all pars until the his 17th hole, Hole #8. His triple there brought him down to 3-under overall and within striking distance of five different players who were one back with plenty of holes to play.

As each contender finished at 2-under, it came down to the final group – almost 2 hours after Tai walked off the golf course. Virginia’s Ben James had been in contention all day until a few bogeys got in his way. He was racing with former Walker Cup teammate Gordon Sargent from Vanderbilt, who had won the individual title two years ago as a freshman.

Both of them had decent birdie chances on the 18th green. James putted first and gave it some speed, slightly missing the hole and his chance at an individual title. Gordon went second and lipped out in slow motion. They both tied for second, and their playing mate from Illinois, Max Herendeen, knocked his chip close and made the birdie to also tie in second with them.

Tai had been on the driving range warming up for a potential playoff when his teammates congratulated him on his win; his coach Bruce Heppler was reporting from the 18th green. Before warming up, Tai said he was spending his time with his teammates anxiously awaiting their standing on the leaderboard – if they were one of the top 8 teams, they would advance to match play. Focusing on the team is one way to block out the world’s best collegiate golfers chasing you down.

Tai is a sophomore at Georgia Tech, though he enrolled in college at the age of a junior. A Singapore native, he served in his military for the required two years before coming to the U.S. to play as a freshman. Is it a coincidence he won on Memorial Day? Perhaps.

Men’s Teams Advancing to NCAA Match Play

While the top half of the team leaderboard seemed secure and mostly focused on seeding, the bottom half was fighting through every shot to make it above the cut line. Here are the final teams competing in the quarterfinals match tomorrow morning:

1. Illinois (-6)
2. Vanderbilt (+10)
T3. Virginia (+11, 3rd seed)
T3. North Carolina (+11, 4th seed)
5. Florida State (+12)
6. Auburn (+19)
7. Ohio State (+22)
8. Georgia Tech (+25)
———————————— (cut line)
9. Oklahoma (+26)
10. Tennessee (+28)
11. Florida (+29)
12. East Tennessee State (+30)
13. Texas (+31)
14. Baylor (+37)
15. Arizona (+41)

Georgia Tech was a question mark after their star player, Christo Lamprecht, subbed out with a back injury after shooting 2-under during the first round. Coach Heppler was hoping the team could pull through so he’d have a chance to put Lamprecht back into match play, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. He has until 10 minutes before the first tee time to make a substitution.

Illinois and North Carolina should also be applauded for being the only two teams today to shoot under par today, both at 4-under.

Top 15 Individuals

2024 NCAA DI Men's Golf Championship - Top 15 Individuals.
2024 NCAA DI Men’s Golf Championship – Top 15 Individuals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

1. Hiroshi Tai (Georgia Tech, -3)
T2. Tyler Goecke (Illinois, -2)
T2. Luke Clanton (Florida State, -2)
T2. Jackson Koivun (Auburn, -2)
T2. Gordon Sargent (Vanderbilt, -2)
T2. Max Herendeen (Illinois, -2)
T2. Ben James (Virginia, -2)
T8. Palmer Jackson (Notre Dame, -1)
T8. Karl Vilips (Stanford, -1)
T8. Adam Wallin (Ohio State, -1)
T11. Ryan Voois (Illinois, E)
T11. Calum Scott (Texas Tech, E)
T11. Christiaan Maas (Texas, E)
T11. Johnny Keefer (Baylor, E)
T15. Nick Mathews (NC State, +1)
T15. Nick Gabrelcik (North Florida, +1)
T15. George Duangmanee (Virginia, +1)

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