Tech shares title in NCAA Fall Preview
Jackets rebound after struggling in opener
By Mike Blum
Georgia Tech bounced back from a disappointing season-opening showing to share the championship of the Ping-Golfweek NCAA Preview, played recently at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
The Yellow Jackets finished with a 13-over 853 total to tie California, with the two teams tied for 3rd, three strokes behind UCLA after 36 holes. Both teams shot 4-under 276 the final day, the only teams to break par in a round on the demanding Crabapple layout, which played to a par of 70.
The NCAA Championship will be played next Spring at Capital City Crabapple, which hosted a World Golf Championship event in 2003, won by Tiger Woods.
Georgia Tech had a chance to win, but neither of its last two players on the course was able to par Crabapple’s difficult finishing hole. Had either of the two parred the 18th, the Jackets would have won the title outright.
The Jackets got contributions from all five players, four of them from the Atlanta area.
Duluth’s Seth Reeves fired a final round 66, the low round of the tournament, and finished in a 7-way tie for 2nd at even par 210, two shots behind medalist Tom Berry of San Diego State.
Bo Andrews, the lone non-Georgian in Tech’s lineup, tied for 10th at 211, with Anders Albertson of Woodstock T16 at 213 and Ollie Schniederjans of Powder Springs T22 at 214.
Freshman Michael Hines of Acworth made his college debut and came through with a 1-under 69 the final day to help the Jackets earn a share of the title.
“That was awesome,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said of Hines. “I was not sure what we would get from him, making his first start. Michael did not have a lot of experience at the national level as a junior player, but after this, he should be in the middle of things all year.”
Hines’ score did not count either of the first two days, and he admitted to getting off to a “rough start. It was my first college tournament and I over-thought things. Today, I was not that nervous and I made a lot of putts.
“To be co-champions in my first tournament is pretty cool. It’s great that I could help out for now.”
Reeves provided the big lift in the final round, carding five birdies and an eagle during his round. The long-hitting lefty put his length to good use, hitting his tee shot just over the short, par-4 fifth and chipping in for eagle, and driving into a greenside bunker at the longer 7th and getting up-and-down for birdie.
“I usually don’t show a lot of emotion, but I got pretty excited,” Reeves said of his reaction to the chip-in. “It’s a birdie hole, but an eagle is a different story.”
Schniederjans closed with a 70, his best round of the tournament, with four birdies on his scorecard, one of which proved to be particularly vital.
With Cal posting its team score with all five Tech players still on the course, the Jackets knew what they needed to shoot as they closed out their rounds. Tech was steady on the tough finishing holes at Crabapple, with Schniederjans providing the lone birdie on the last four, holing a clutch birdie putt at the long, par-4 18th after an excellent approach shot.
“That was huge,” Schniederjans said of a putt that could have provided Tech with a winning margin. As it turned out, it enabled the Jackets to preserve a tie.
“I don’t know how co-champions work,” he said. “I don’t know how to look at it.”
One thing the team clearly recognized was how important it was to come back with a strong showing after a dismal effort in the team’s annual Fall opener at The Farm.
“We completely blew up mentally and physically at the last tournament,” Reeves said. “We pretty much won this tournament and that’s a big confidence boost. We beat most of the best teams in the country.”
“The way we came back from The Farm in this one was pretty awesome,” concurred Schniederjans.
Heppler said sharing the tournament title against such a strong field “hopefully will give them confidence. They were pretty torn up after The Farm.”
UNLV took the first round lead at 281, one shot ahead of UCLA. Tech was six back at 287, led by Andrews (70) and Albertson (71), with Georgia right behind at 288, including a 70 by sophomore Nicholas Reach and a 71 from freshman Lee McCoy of Clarkesville.
UCLA inched in front at 566 after 36 holes, one ahead of UNLV and three in front of Tech, which improved five shots to 282. Andrews and Albertson both shot 70, with Reeves and Schniederjans right behind at 71. A 72 by Raines was not needed.
Georgia was 11th at 579 after a 291 that included a 72 by Keith Mitchell and a trio of 73s.
With UNLV and UCLA both falling back a bit the final day, the tournament came down to a battle between the Jackets and Golden Bears. Cal matched Tech’s 276 with a 68, two 69s and a 70. UNLV tied for 3rd at 853 with Texas, with UCLA and Washington sharing 5th at 854. New Mexico was 7th at 857, with Georgia closing with a 280 to take 8th at 859.
Reach and Albany’s T.J. Mitchell both closed with 3-under 67s for the Bulldogs. Reach was part of the 7-way tie for 2nd at 210, with T.J. Mitchell T26 at 215. Mitchell had six birdies in the final round after managing just two over his first 36 holes.
Alabama, which included two-time Georgia Amateur champion Lee Knox of Auguta in its lineup, tied for 9th at 861. Alabama returned four of five starters from last year’s NCAA runner-up squad, but its top two players – Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt — were T26 and T35 respectively in the Preview.
Jordan Spieth of Texas was T35 at 217 and U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox of Chattanooga was T39 at 218.
In other early season college tournaments:
Carpet Capital title to Texas; ‘Dogs 2nd
Defending national champion Texas opened the 2012-13 college golf season with a victory in the annual Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm in Rocky Face, edging out runner-up Georgia by five strokes.
The Longhorns finished with a 13-under 851 total, winning on the strength of a 22-under 266 in the second round. The Bulldogs led after an opening 278, but Texas came back with a sensational second round to go from 15 strokes behind Georgia to three ahead.
Neither team broke 290 the final day, with only one team under par that day.
The Longhorns’ Brandon Stone, who shot 63 in the second round, was medalist at 204, with teammate Spieth tying for 2nd at 206, including a second round 66. Also tying for 2nd was Georgia’s T.J. Mitchell, who shot 65-68 the first two days. McCoy tied for 8th in his college debut with scores of 68-71-73–212.
Kennesaw State was 10th in the tournament at 883, led by Duluth’s Ben Greene, who shot 70 all three days to place 6th at 210. In the Shoal Creek Invitational in Birmingham, the Owls were 8th at 893 led by Jimmy Beck of Columbus, who tied for 5th at 214.
Host Georgia Tech was a distant 11th in the Carper Capital at 886, failing to break 290 in any round and shooting 301 the first day. Schniederjans was the lone Tech golfer to finish better than 40th, tying for 19th at 219.
Southern’s Wolfes wins Kiawah event
Georgia Southern’s Scott Wolfes was medalist in the Invitational at Kiawah, played at the Ocean Course one month after the PGA Championship.
Wolfes, a sophomore from St. Simons Island and two-time GSGA Junior champion, shot 73-67 the first two days and held on to win despite an 80 in difficult conditions the final round. The low round of the day was a 74, with Wolfes the only player to break 70 in the tournament.
Florida won by 24 shots, with four Gator golfers finishing in the top 5 behind Wolfes.
Both Georgia Southern and Mercer finished well back in their season-opening tournament. Southern tied for 11th at 933, with Mercer 13th at 934. Mercer tied for 5th in a tournament hosted by Colorado State, with Valdosta’s John Gregory Joseph tying for 9th at 215.
Jaworski, Janico key Vandy victory
Zack Jaworski of Alpharetta and Jordan Janico of Duluth helped lead Vanderbilt to a tournament win on the Commodores’ home course outside Nashville.
Vanderbilt won by nine strokes at the Legends Club with a 7-under 845 total. Jaworski, a freshman making his first tournament start, tied for 12th at 214, opening with a 71 and shooting 3-under 68 the final day. Janico, a sophomore, was T23 at 218 in his return to action after missing last season after undergoing hip surgery.
The tournament medalist was Georgia State freshman Jonathan Grey, who posted scores of 69-67-70 for a 7-under 206 total to win by one stroke.
Georgia Southern was 5th in the tournament at 865, with Georgia State 7th at 871. Charlie Martin of LaGrange was low for the Eagles, taking 5th at 209 (68-72-69). Wolfes was T8 at 212 (69-74-69).
Augusta State struggled in its first tournament of the season, placing 10th in an 11-team field in a tournament played at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, the host course for the 2009 Solheim Cup. Robin Peterson led the Jaguars, tying for 6th at 221, five shots behind the medalist.
Georgia State will host its annual tournament at Berkeley Hills Oct. 15-16, with Georgia making its first appearance in the event. It will be the Bulldogs’ fourth start in their home state this Fall, following the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon, which was played Oct. 5-7.
Georgia Tech hosts the U.S. Collegiate Championship Oct. 19-21, with some of the country’s top teams competing at Golf Club of Georgia.
Kennesaw State, which will be in the field at Berkeley Hills, will host the inaugural Pinetree Invitational at Pinetree CC Oct. 22-23. Georgia Southern and Mercer will also play in the Berkeley Hills event.
Burger takes first for Lady Bulldogs
Emilie Burger captured an individual title for the Georgia women’s team, taking medalist honors in a tournament hosted by Vanderbilt at the Legend Club in Franklin, Tenn.
Burger, a senior from Hoschton, shot three straight rounds of even par 72, scoring birdies on three of the last four holes to finish three strokes ahead of her closest competitors.
Playing with just four golfers, Georgia was 9th at 916, well behind defending national champion Alabama.
Georgia opened the season with a 5th place finish in Charleston, S.C., 15 shots behind Florida. Freshman Manuela Carbajo Re, who missed the Vanderbilt tournament to compete in the World Amateur team competition, tied for 10th in her first college start, with Burger T14 at 216.
The Lady Bulldogs hosted the NCAA Preview at the UGA course Oct. 5-7, with the 2013 NCAA Women’s Championship to be played in Athens in May.