#STINGDAILY: So Close

April 28, 2013

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Anders Albertson found himself in a several strange spots Sunday, when the Georgia Tech sophomore tried to blend the joy he earned by winning the ACC golf tournament with equally out-sized disappointment shared by his teammates and coaches.

Albertson’s 15-under par mark of 201 for 54 holes at the Old North State Club in New London, N.C., set an ACC tournament record (previous was 202 by Webb Simpson of Wake Forest). He was superb.

“My dad [Scott] came up. It was a lot of fun having him,” he said after shooting a four-under par round of 68. “It doesn’t get much better than hugging your dad after you win.”

The Yellow Jackets, however, were within range when – in weather so miserable the tournament would have been suspended if it were not the final round – their dream of winning a fifth straight ACC title was gone with the wind. And the rain.

And a loss of concentration.

Tech (851) finished fourth, 12 strokes behind Duke (839), and nine back of Virginia Tech (842) and Florida State (842). 

“The back nine, especially the last three holes were really tough. It was mostly into the wind, and there was really, really heavy rain.  All the greens were puddled up.

“There are score boards everywhere, and I saw that we were two back of FSU at the turn. I was trying to put together a good back nine. I didn’t make any birdies. We obviously would have liked to have won, and that’s what we expected to do.”

On the way to his first tournament win as a collegian, Albertson put together nine straight pars on that back nine. The rest of the Jackets were 11-over par across the same holes.

That left Albertson in position to play counselor, sort of, even against the urge to celebrate.

“That’s the interesting dynamic of our sport,” he said. “We’re an individual sport, but we’re a team. Our No. 1 goal is to win an ACC title, and unfortunately we didn’t do it this time, but it’s nice to get this win for Georgia Tech.”

The sophomore from Woodstock stretched his roll Sunday. He finished fourth earlier this month in the weather-shortened Linger Longer Invitational, and then tied for sixth in the Gary Koch Invitational even though he closed with a 75.

At the Old North State Club, Albertson fired rounds of 66, 67 and 68 to win by five strokes and set a record for largest margin of victory by a Tech player in the ACC championship. He’s the eighth Jacket to win the conference title.

Even with the weather being so lousy, part of Albertson’s biggest fight was with himself. He had the lead entering Sunday, and had to battle the pressure of holding it.

“That’s just human nature. That’s one of the hardest things; you get ahead of yourself and out of the moment,” Albertson said. “You have to be really focused and disciplined. I went over my approach for each shot.”

Tech coach Bruce Heppler was thrilled.

“He’s a great kid, a great student,” the coach told Ramblinwreck.com. “He worked so hard, and is so conscientious about everything he does. He just started on the first hole and never let up.”

Albertson found himself in another strange spot a little while after the tournament.

ACC officials pushed the tournament one week deeper into April this year, and exams begin Monday at Tech. Albertson has an accounting final first thing.

So while several of the Jackets were waiting at the small local airport to head home, he didn’t want to risk the chance that might not happen. He hopped in a car to study during a five-hour drive back to Atlanta.

 “They might not fly tonight because of the weather so . . . we’re driving,” Albertson said. “Me and Ollie [Schniederjans] have finals in the morning, and [freshman Shun Yat Hak] is riding with us. It is kind of hard.”

For the life of me, I cannot begin to guess why ACC officials pushed the golf tournament back a week. I don’t know if any other schools start finals today, but I would be surprised if Tech is the only school with exams this week. This is not the reason that the Jackets sagged down the stretch, but it sure seems wrong. Comments to stingdaily@gmail.com.

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