#STINGDAILY: Looking to Defend their Title

Oct. 4, 2012

Matt Winkeljohn, Sting Daily –

Seth Reeves, Bo Andrews and the rest of the Georgia Tech golfers today will begin trying to stretch two kinds of momentum.

Last time out, the No. 12-ranked Yellow Jackets shared the PING-Golfweek Preview title with Cal a couple weeks ago. And for the next three days every available Jacket will be on the links in the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon where last year Tech won.

The Brickyard at Riverside Club sure seems like a good place for Reeves, Andrews, Ollie Schniederjens, Anders Albertson and Richy Werenski to spend the weekend.

They’ll represent Tech, and freshman Michael Hines and junior Drew Czuchry will compete individually – their scores will not count toward team totals.

This is not likely to be a waltz. Two-time defending NCAA champion Augusta State, Georgia, Chattanooga and North Florida – ranked teams – are in the field.

“That’s just about as good a field as you’re going to have,” said coach Bruce Heppler. “As a group they had not won a ton of things; they had not won a ton as individual stuff [collegiately]. Everywhere there is a worry about where we were going to be.”

“I thought our preseason ranking [No. 4] was a little high for a team that didn’t make it to the NCAAs and lost a senior All-America player.”

The Jackets are spending the fall without getting on a plane.

They opened the season tying for 11th place in the Carpet Capital Collegiate near Dalton. The first round there was one of the worst in recent program history, and the second and third rounds were just marginally better.

Then, the Jackets played well from start to finish, especially on the last day, to tie Cal at the Preview at the Capital City Club Crabapple course near Alpharetta. Reeves’ 66 on the final day helped bring Tech home.

After the Macon trip, the fall season will close Oct. 19-21 with the U.S. Collegiate Championship at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta.

Heppler said the fact the Jackets tied for the title at the Preview doesn’t mean that Tech is completely settled. Truth is, a coach would probably prefer that his team is never completely settled.

Competition and and a little roster churning can keep everybody on their toes. Werenski beat out Hines for a spot on the “travel” squad this time although Hines will compete as an individual in Macon.  The Jackets continue searching for leadership.

“There are some guys that are trying to assert themselves as leaders. I don’t think we’re there yet,” Heppler said. “We just have some guys who want to be counted on every day. The really good teams tend to have two guys were you can pencil in. On their worst day, they don’t shoot 79 or 77. They tend to shoot even par.

Just two Jackets will sit this one out. Freshman Shun Yat Hak has an ankle injury and senior Minghao Wang has been tending to personal matters.

“It may be tough to get [Hak] back for our event. The ankle is the base of all your movement,” the coach said. “We’re going to try and make sure he’s completely pain-free before he starts to swing the club again. I think he’s a long way from being able to go at it. With ankles or wrists, it’s tough to play if they’re not right.”

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