Three Georgia Tech golfers, including a pair of rookies, recorded finishes of seventh or better in the PGA Tour event that ended Sunday in Jackson, Miss.
Roberto Castro, the veteran of the group, tied for fifth at 14-under 274 along with Anders Albertson, making just his third PGA Tour start. Seth Reeves, Albertson’s recent teammate at Georgia Tech, tied for seventh at 275 in his second career start on the PGA Tour. All three grew up and still reside in metro Atlanta, with Castro attending high school at Milton, Albertson at Etowah and Reeves at Peachtree Ridge.
Castro is returning to the PGA Tour after competing last year on the Web.com Tour, where he placed 24th on the final regular season money list. Prior to that, he had played the previous six seasons on the PGA Tour, twice qualifying for the Tour Championship at East Lake.
After closing out his round Saturday in Jackson with three straight birdies, Castro began the final round with another stretch of three birdies in a row, and turned in 7-under 29 to jump into contention after beginning the day 10 shots off the lead.
Castro’s eighth birdie on the day at the 11th pulled him within two of leader and eventual champion Cameron Champ, but his charge stalled when he bogeyed the par-4 12th. Castro had birdie opportunities on two of the next three holes, but could not convert either chance and had to work hard to save par on the last three holes.
After his torrid start, Castro settled for a 7-under 65, the second lowest score of Sunday’s final round. He wound up seven shots behind Champ, who won by four after notching five birdies on the last six holes at Jackson CC.
Castro shot 1-under each of the first two rounds and was 2-under after 15 holes Saturday before closing out the day with birdie putts of21, 15 and 16 on his final three holes for a 67. He picked up right where he lost off Saturday afternoon with birdie putts of 25 and 30 feet on his first two holes Sunday morning, and made it six in a row over two days with an up-and-down birdie at the par-5 third.
After laying up on the par-5 fifth, Castro hit his third shot within 18 inches and holed birdie putts of 14 and 20 feet on holes 7 and 8 before sticking his approach shot to the par-4 ninth inside five feet for his seventh birdie of the nine. Another up-and-down at the par-5 11th got him to 8-under for the day, but he missed a birdie try of 12 feet after an excellent tee shot on the par-3 12th, and was unable to take advantage of the short par-4 14th.
Castro made the cut in the season-opening event in northern California and was 122nd on the FedExCup points list coming into the event in Jackson. He jumped to 61st with his tie for fifth, and will move up the priority list for Web.com Tour graduates after beginning the season 47th out of 50 players. Castro received a sponsor exemption into the field for this week’s tournament in Las Vegas, but will not need the special invite after his top-10 showing in Jackson.
Albertson was a streaky performer the entire week in Jackson, beginning with the first round. He shot 2-over on the back nine before carding four birdies on the first five holes of the front nine for a 1-under 71. He birdied four of his first seven holes Friday and got to 5-under on the round after 11 holes after nearly making eagle on the par-5 11th. But he took four to get down from 25 feet from the rough on the 12th for double bogey and settled for a 2-under 70.
Like Castro, Albertson shot 5-under 67 Saturday, turning in 4-under on the back nine before taking par on eight of his last nine holes. Albertson opened his final round with birdies on three of the first five holes at Jackson CC, and ran off five birdies on a 7-hole stretch to briefly close within one of Champ’s lead.
Albertson did not make a putt of longer than 12 feet on any of his eight birdies Sunday, with three of his birdies coming on par 5s and another when he drove the short par-4 15th. A bogey on the final hole left him with a 66.
The tie for fifth moved Albertson up to 67th on the points list after he missed the cut in California to start the season. Albertson had one made one previous PGA Tour start, missing the cut in the RSM Classic at Sea Island GC in 2016.
Albertson played three years on the Web.com Tour, placing eighth on the money list in 2018 after solid showing his fist two seasons. A victory in Illinois highlighted Albertson’s third Web.com season. He also tied for second in a Web.com Finals event in Boise, shooting a final round 62.
Reeves graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014, one year before Albertson. Four Georgia Tech players from the teams of 2012, ’13 and 14 are currently on the PGA Tour, with Richy Werenski and Ollie Schniederjans both in their third seasons on tour.
While his three former teammates all made it to the Web.com Tour in their first attempt. It took Reeves a few years. The long-hitting lefthander played respectably in his first two seasons there before earning his promotion to the PGA Tour with back-to-back finishes of fifth and fourth in the two Web.com Finals events in Ohio two months ago.
In his first ever start on the PGA Tour, Reeves made the cut in the tournament in California, and followed with a tie for seventh in Jackson to gain 58 spots to 80th on the FedExCup points list. Reeves, Albertson and Castro are already in good position to get into events on the West Coast after the first re-shuffle for Web.com graduates following the Fall series of tournaments. They can improve even more the next three weeks in Las Vegas, Mexico and on the Georgia coast.
Reeves got off to a strong start in Mississippi with a bogey-free 67 in the opening round, and followed with what could have been another no-bogey round save for consecutive putting hiccups late on the front nine.
After two mostly mistake-free rounds of golf, Reeves made five boys on Saturday, including a 3-putt bogey from 8 ½ feet. But he made up for his lapses with a 20-foot eagle putt and five birdies, the longest of which was from 10 feet.
Another 70 put Reeves in good shape heading to the final round, and he turned in a 4-under 68, with his only bogey coming on a missed 3-foot putt. His length off the tee and some good work from off the green led to five birdies, as Reeves collected a check for almost $120,000, the largest of his young career. Albertson and Castro both collected $167,200 for their tie for fifth.