Georgia Tech opened its 2014 golf schedule in Hawaii in early February and hopes to finish it in Kansas in late May with a long sought NCAA Championship.
The Yellow Jackets have made a number of runs at an NCAA golf championship, but four runner-up finishes and several other close calls over the past two decades are as close as the Jackets have come.
Georgia Tech begins its 2014 schedule ranked second in the country behind defending national champion Alabama, and is coming off an outstanding Fall showing which included two wins and a pair of runner-up finishes.
The Jackets won the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm outside Dalton and an event hosted by North Carolina, and placed 2nd in the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon and the U.S. Collegiate Championship, hosted by Tech at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Tech goes into the 2014 season with a talented, veteran lineup, led by a trio of Atlanta area residents.
Junior Ollie Schniederjans of Powder Springs was the medalist in both the Carpet Capital and USCC, and placed 3rd and 4th in the other two Fall tournaments. He began 2014 ranked 5th in the country, and will be a contender for national Player of the Year honors.
Senior Seth Reeves of Duluth was the medalist in North Carolina and tied for 1st at the Brickyard, and was ranked 28th at the outset of the year.
Junior Anders Albertson of Woodstock had three top-5 finishes in five Fall starts, including a tie for 3rd in a late-season event in El Paso which consists of many of the country’s top players. Albertson ended the Fall at No. 24 in the rankings.
Seniors Bo Andews and Richy Werenski both started in all four of Tech’s Fall tournaments, but are being pushed for playing time by freshman Vincent Whaley. Sophomore Michael Hines of Acworth and junior Drew Czuchry of Auburn did not play in the Fall.
Other than a one day event at the Capital City Club, Tech will not play in Georgia this Spring after competing in the state in three of its four Fall tournaments. The Jackets travel to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Florida and Ohio before playing in the ACC Championship in North Carolina in late April.
GEORGIA was ranked 7th after its Fall season, which included a win in Nashville and four other finishes between 2nd and 4th. The Bulldogs were led by senior Joey Garber, who was medalist at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course and had two other top-4 finishes in four starts, ending the Fall ranked 2nd nationally.
Sophomore Lee McCoy of Clarkesville and senior Michael Cromie both played consistently well throughout the Fall, and were ranked 43rd and 56th nationally at the outset of the Spring schedule.
Junior Nicholas Reach also had some solid Fall showings, with juniors Sam Straka of Valdosta and Mookie DeMoss of Duluth breaking into the starting lineup along with freshman Greyson Sigg of Augusta. Columbus freshman Parker Derby is also competing for playing time on a deep and competitive roster.
After a busy Fall schedule, Georgia will play only three Spring events before the SEC Championship at Sea Island GC April 25-27. The Bulldogs play in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas along side Georgia Tech, with their other Spring start the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Plantation March 22-23.
KENNESAW STATE collected a pair of victories in the Fall, winning at Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, S.C., as well as repeating as champions of the Pinetree Invitational, an event hosted by the Owls. Kennesaw also placed 3rd in a tournament in Baton Rouge, La., and was ranked 33rd nationally going into the Spring.
The Owls are led by Columbus junior Jimmy Beck, who won the 2013 Georgia Amateur at Pinetree Country Club, the Owls’ home course. Beck placed between 5th and 13th in all four of the team’s Fall tournaments, and is ranked 61st in the country.
Juniors Kelby Burton and Austin Vick, both from Evans, had top-10 finishes in the Fall, and Columbus senior Jonathan Klotz was in the lineup in all four Fall events, with a tie for 20th his best showing.
Freshman Teremoana Beaucousin closed out the Fall with top 10s in his last two starts, with fellow freshmen Chris Guglielmo of Cumming and Buster Bruton of Dallas also vying for playing time.
After opening its Spring schedule in California, the Owls stick to the Southeast with tournaments in Bluffton, S.C., Auburn, the Linger Longer Invitational at Lake Oconee, at Furman and in Nashville. Kennesaw will host the Atlantic Sun Championship April 20-22 at Chateau Elan.
MERCER scored perhaps its biggest golf victory in school history, winning the Brickyard Invitational in Macon, beating Georgia Tech and Georgia to take the title. The Bears also placed 2nd in Louisville, 3rd in Jacksonville, 4th in Mississippi and 6th at Berkeley Hills in its other Fall starts, and was No. 39 in the country going into the Spring.
The Bears got solid efforts from the veteran trio of senior James Beale and juniors Hans Reimers and Trey Rule.
Reimers, ranked 90th individually, had three top 10s and did not finish lower than 18th in five Fall appearances, highlighted by sharing medalist honors in the Brickyard Invitational, which was played for the final time.
Rule, an Eatonton resident, placed 19th or better in all of his starts, with his best showing a tie for 4th at Berkeley Hills. Beale played well other than a handful of rounds, overcoming an opening 78 to finish 5th in Louisville.
Freshmen Sean Smothers and Evans’ Emmanuel Kountakis both made contributions, with Kountakis sharing medalist honors in his second college start at the Brickyard. Freshman Austin Connelly of McDonough also earned a Fall start.
The Bears will play three of their five Spring tournaments in Florida, also competing in the Linger Longer Invitational as well as an event hosted by Vanderbilt in Nashville. Mercer will join Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun Championship at Chateau Elan.
Like Mercer, GEORGIA STATE won a Fall tournament it hosted, taking the AutoTrader.com Collegiate at Berkeley Hills. The Panthers placed 5th in a tournament in Greensboro, N.C., and were 9th at the Brickyard after a slow start in their season opener at Daufuskie Island, S.C.
After an outstanding freshman season, Jonathan Grey struggled for most of the Fall schedule, and the team notched just two individual top 10s, both at Berkeley Hills. Senior Tyler Gruca of Alpharetta tied for 2nd to key the Panthers’ victory, with freshman Nathan Mallonee of Lexington tying for 6th.
Juniors Davin White of Griffin and Damon Stephenson were the team’s most consistent performers during the Fall season, with White the Panthers’ low man at the Brickyard and Stephenson leading the way in two of the four tournaments.
The Panthers, ranked 57th after the Fall season, have a busy Spring schedule, playing six tournaments before the Sun Belt Championship in Mississippi in April. Georgia State plays in Mobile and California in February, followed by three tournaments in the Carolinas and a lone Georgia appearance in the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro March 14-16,
GEORGIA SOUTHERN had a consistent but unexceptional Fall showing, placing between 4th and 7th in all five tournaments.
Senior Will Evans of McDonough started fast with 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the team’s first two tournaments, but finished better than 25th in just one of the last three
Junior Scott Wolfes of St. Simons, who has been the Eagles’ top player the last two years, started slowly, but was 8th, 17th and 2nd in the last three events.
Christian Humber, a senior from Fayetteville, and Charlie Martin, a junior from LaGrange, made four starts each, with Griffin sophomore Henry Mabbett playing in three tournaments for a team that had nine players compete in at least two events.
The highlight of Georgia Southern’s Spring schedule is the annual Schenkel Invitational, hosted by the Eagles March 16-18 at Forest Heights CC. The team will not venture outside the Southeast, with its other four Spring starts in Florida, Alabama and Tennessee. The Southern Conference Championship will be played at Pinehurst, N.C.
After winning back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2010 and ’11, AUGUSTA STATE has failed to qualify for nationals either of the last two years, and that streak is unlikely to end in 2014.
The Jaguars did not finish higher than 6th in five Fall tournaments, with the team’s schedule among the strongest in the country. As has been the case for most of the Jaguars’ history, the roster is made up predominantly of players from overseas, with only one Georgian among the four U.S.-born players on the team.
Cody Shafer, a junior from Evans, started in three of the Jaguars’ five Fall starts, with the team’s other upperclassmen all from outside the U.S.
The Jaguars named a new head coach at the end of the Fall season, former Mississippi assistant Jack O’Keefe. The team’s first Spring tournament will be in Ponte Vedra, Fla., in late February, with the Jaguars playing two events in March in South Carolina and hosting two – a one-day tournament March 1 and the annual Augusta Invitational April 5-6. Both will be played at Forest Hills.