April 24, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
James White may not feel like he did all that he could, but there’s no debate on this: he took all that there was to take. And for that, the guy is the closest thing on campus right now to a lock to one day enter the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
As far as anyone has been able to tell, the senior golfer is only the second Tech student-athlete to be a part of four straight ACC championship squads.
Now get this: the other was K.G. White, an outfielder with the Yellow Jackets when the baseball team won conference titles from 1985-’88. David Duval was on three of Tech’s four straight golf championship teams from ’91-’94, but nobody was on all four.
So what is it with the Whites?
These two are not related other than by the rarity of their deeds.
White wasn’t feeling so special Sunday afternoon until some time had passed after the Jackets beat Virginia by seven strokes for their fourth straight ACC title, and sixth in the past seven years.
The weather had been downright miserable. It was rainy, and cold, and so windy that his bag blew over several times and his umbrella once blew out of his bag and landed on his ball as he was preparing to hit the thing.
“That freaked me out,” White said Tuesday. “I picked up the umbrella and the ball didn’t move, or it would have been a penalty.”
Compounding his anxiety, or perhaps as a result of it, White shot a 77. He was first team All-America as a junior, and just a week earlier was named co-winner of the Byron Nelson Award, a national honor given golfers for sake of the breadth of their entire college careers on and off the course.
Yet White’s was the only Tech score not to count against the team tally on Sunday, as was the case Friday. Then, he shot a 70. That’s how well the Jackets were playing at the Old State North Club in New London, N.C. Two of his teammates shot 66s and two shot 69s.
That’s sick, which is kind of how White felt once he finally got in out of the muck on Sunday – at least until it became clear that he was once again a champion.
“It was definitely the strangest way to win my fourth straight one,” he said. “Everyone on our team had a chance to win the tournament.”
White’s not kidding.
Freshman Anders Albertson finished in a tie for fourth at seven-under-par 209 even after shooting par 72 on the final day. Bo Andrews, Ollie Schniederjans and Richard Werenski all tied for seventh at five-under 211.
Werenski led the tournament after two rounds before finishing with a 76. Schniederjans had a four-under par round at one point on the final day, but closed with a bogey and a triple bogey.
“Ollie was sour when he came off, and Richy had hit a ball in the water,” White said. “I had shot 77 with no birdies in my last ACC round. All the guys were disappointed, but we didn’t let it linger. We all kind of handled it differently, and when people started congratulating us, we kind of got with it.
“Coach Heppler gave us all a, ‘Stinger high-five,’ when they gave the awards. He does that only when we win [the ACCs]. He just about rips your hand off.”
White, the golfer, said he probably won’t touch his clubs for another day or so as he wraps up three of his final four classes this week in advance of graduation a week from Saturday. Monday, he’ll sign off on Psychology 1101. That will be, “the last exam I’ll ever take,” he said.
By then, the Jackets’ hands will have healed up; they’d better. Saturday’s reward will merit all hands on deck as Heppler has made arrangements for the squad to play Augusta National.
That never gets old.
“I don’t get any kind of first-tee nerves for a casual round of golf, but at Augusta it’s different. I’m really looking forward to it,” said White.
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