From Tee To Green With Bryce Molder

Bryce Molder Web Diary Part 7

People asked us all week if we were going to get a chance to go to the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, etc., but that is not the reason we went down to Orlando, Fla., this past weekend. We had the ACC Championships on our mind, and that was it. Going into the final round, we were trailing Wake Forest by one shot, and led Clemson by 3. With a great back nine the final day, we were able to pull ahead for an eight-shot victory.

With everyone so spread out throughout the Magnolia Course at Disney World, I had no idea how the team portion of the tournament stood. Coach approached me in the 18th fairway and I asked him, “What do I need to do?” He replied, “Well, you are two back (meaning two shots behind from John Engler of Clemson for the individual title), so you need to make this…because the rest of it is over.” I knew this meant that the team title was all but decided, but I did not know who was ahead. So I asked, “Good, or Bad?” He winked at me and we went on to discuss the 127-yard shot I was faced with.

I did not hole the shot, or get any closer to the individual lead. Although I was somewhat disappointed about being so close with a second-place finish, the excitement about our second ACC Championship in three years easily overshadowed any disappointment I felt. The roles were reversed from last year when I took home the individual title, but Clemson won the team title. I prefer this year’s result much more than last year’s.

Just as impressive, all five of our players were in the top 15 this week. Adding to an already great spring, Kris Mikkelson finished sixth with his 3-under-par score of 69-73-71?213. That matched his best finish of the year. Troy Matteson was in the top 10 as well, tying for tenth with a 1-under-par score of 70-74-71?213, including a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole on Sunday. Matt Weibring tied for 12th place with an even-par score of 73-71-72?216, while Wes Latimer was 15th at 72-71-75?218. We now have a few short weeks to prepare for the NCAA East Regionals on May 17-19. We have now won four of our last five tournaments, and we have just begun to peak. I feel as though we have plenty more left in us, especially when classes wrap up May 4. Also, Wes Latimer and I will have graduated (May 5) the next time you hear from me.

Web Diary Part 6

Our quest to win four straight tournaments fell short this past weekend at the U.S. Collegiate Championships in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The sun shined every day and a breeze came up from the Pacific Ocean every day at about 10:00. Just as predictable, our playing partners would make their putts while ours just slid past the hole…occasionally catching the edge and lipping out. Or at least it seemed that way. After just an average day on Friday, we found ourselves in second place only five shots behind first-place Georgia. But, as the tournament went on, we just fell further and further behind. Although we kept our second place position and finished the tournament there, I think it is safe to say that we may have had our minds back in Georgia at Augusta National. The Masters also finished on Sunday, but it was a much more exciting finish than our tournament.

While the tournament was not, getting from place to place in Mexico was very exciting. We rode in busses to the course, but taxis everywhere else. Speedometers did not work, doors would not lock, and I don’t think the breaks worked very well in some of the taxis either. We did get to use the very little bit of Spanish we knew, and even picked up a few more phrases from the cab drivers. Though we probably should not use them around any Spanish speakers.

I finished in a tie for 4th, with a 5-under-par score of 211. Matt Weibring (71-68-79-218) and Troy Matteson (74-72-73-219) in 16th and 20th place were also in the top 20 as individuals. Wes Latimer finished 27th with his score of 222, and Kris Mikkelsen was in 44th at 226. We now head into the post season. The Atlantic Coast Conference championships are next for us, those will get started on April 20 in Orlando, Fla., at Walt Disney World?s Magnolia Course. This is the part of the season we have worked for and have been looking forward to.

Web Diary, March 28

We went to Austin, Texas expecting hot, windy conditions, three tournament rounds and a performance similar to Las Vegas. But we got none of them. When people tell you that the weather is always great in Texas, don’t believe them. We arrived on a cold, rainy day, and left on a cold rainy day. The tournament schedule had us playing 36 holes on Monday, and the final 18 on Tuesday. We never started the final 18, and almost failed to finish the second round. We started Monday morning at 8:30 and finished the last couple of holes in semi-darkness. That is a very long day, but we happened to find ourselves in the lead by one shot at 3 under par.

The next morning’s forecast was beautiful… rain in the morning and increasing amounts of rain throughout the day. After a delay of an hour, we started to get ready to play, but lightning stole any chance we ever had of finishing the last round. This meant that the less than average round Monday afternoon (4 over par) would be our final round, and it was a good thing we played well Monday morning (7 under par). We did not play our best as a whole, but we had enough to come away with a victory. This is a sign that we are improving and getting closer to where we need to be as we approach the postseason.

I finished in first place for the third time this year at 9-under-par, 67-68-135, two shots ahead of second place. Kris Mikkelsen finished 9th at, 1-under-par, 70-73-143, while Wes Latimer finished tied for 25th and both Troy Matteson and Matt Weibring were part of a tie for 37th place.

Next we will travel to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico for the U.S. Collegiate Championship. Watch for us on ESPN on April 7-8, this is one of the few times we get to play on t.v. so please check us out.

Web Diary, March 12

Vegas baby, Vegas! It’s the city that never sleeps, it’s always light out and there are no clocks in sight. Somehow we got past all of the glitter of Las Vegas and had the best team performance since I came to school here, and maybe the biggest winning margin ever for the Georgia Tech golf program, as we won by 24 shots over top-ranked Georgia.

After playing slow, “grainy” greens in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, we hoped for some smooth, fast, firm greens in Las Vegas. We got just that. But Rio Secco also added slopes in the greens that would rival some at Augusta National. In blustery conditions the first day, many 3-putts and some 4-putts were recorded by the nation’s best players. I watched as a player in the group in front of me putted a ball into the water, and I heard of at least 5 or 6 more instances of this throughout the day.

This accounted for higher scores the first day, but the conditions got better every day. We led the 15-team field by one shot after the first day with a 4-over par 292, then increased our lead to 9 shots with a 9-under par 279 the next day. Sunday, we played our best round of the year when we shot 15-under par on a course that yielded more three-putts than birdies. By far this is our best play of the year. We leave for Austin, Texas in a couple weeks for the Morris Williams Intercollegiate, which will be hosted by the University of Texas

Troy Matteson led the team by finishing 6-under for the tournament with all of that coming on the last day with an impressive 66, which was the lowest round of the tournament. I finished tied for fourth place at 4-under-par, while Kris Mikkelsen had his best finish of the year by placing sixth with a 3-under-par total of 213. Wes Latimer was 16th at 1-over-par, and Matt Weibring was 33rd after he shot a pair of 69s on the final two days of play.

Web Diary, February 28

This is how a college golf tournament is supposed to be. Waking up for the last round, we find ourselves in tropical Puerto Rico amidst 80 -degree temperatures and slight, ocean breezes. Georgia, which is ranked number one in the country, is tied with us for first place, and Clemson, ranked third, is one shot behind.

Because we do not play with our teammates, knowing how well they are doing compared to the other teams can be very difficult. It was clear that Georgia was not doing very well, but Clemson had started making more and more putts as the day progressed. With a few holes left, I got the feeling that we were playing for second place but I was not aware of what was about to take place. Our team played the last two holes 5 under par combined, to clip Clemson by a shot.

We did not even find this out until we were at the clubhouse ten minutes later and started talking about what we had shot. This is a big win for us for many reasons. Most importantly, everyone played very well and contributed at least two of the three rounds and we can forget about last week’s disaster in Hawaii. Individually, I led the team by finishing third, while Matt Weibring and Troy Matteson tied for 15th, Wes Latimer was tied for 22nd, and Kris Mikkelsen tied for 28th place. Needless to say, I had more to talk about than the weather this week, but I will add that the waves were better in Puerto Rico than Hawaii. March 6, we leave for Las Vegas to compete against one of the better fields we will face until the National Championships in May.

Web Diary, February 19

There are positives and negatives about Hawaii being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing to stop the sun from shining, but there is also nothing to stop the wind from blowing. The big argument for the week was whether the wind was blowing 30 or 40 mph. I argued for 50 mph while I struggled to take a stance to putt for most of the first and second rounds. I remember hitting my driver into the wind 205 yards on one hole and on the next hitting a 6-iron 255 yards downwind.

While this was an excuse for higher scores, it is not an excuse for how we finished. We tied for 8th place as a team, some 30 shots behind first. Troy Matteson and I finished in a three-way tie for 13th place, while Matt Weibring and Wes Latimer tied for 67th, and Kris Mikkelsen tied for 96th.

Once again, we are traveling out of the continental US to Puerto Rico in an attempt to defend our title from a year ago at the Puerto Rico Classic. This is always a big tournament for us to start the spring, as we face many teams within our district and a couple other teams in the top 5 in the country. We leave Friday afternoon for San Juan, and I expect to have something better to write about next week other than the weather.

Web Diary, February 7

When the Georgia Tech golf team arrived on campus last August, we were without the familiar faces of Matt Kuchar and Carlton Forrester. Both of them graduated and moved on, which left our team without its complete identity. We have had great teams for a few years now, but after our first tournament, The Golfweek Preview, we had some work to do to get back to where we were.

We followed the 12th-place finish to open the year with a victory at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga., a pair of second-place finishes, and a third-place finish. We ended the fall ranked second in the country, which is very close to where we wanted to be. In my quest to earn first-team All-America honors for the fourth year, I got off to a good start with two individual wins and a pair of runner-up finishes. I hope to continue this level of play or improve on it to help our team keep getting better throughout the spring.

My teammates and I have left the fall behind us to focus on what is ahead. This week we leave for Hawaii to play in the Taylor Made Waikoloa Intercollegiate on February 15-17, on the West Coast of the Big Island. Georgia Tech has won this tournament the last two years and we would like to keep that streak alive.

Yes, Hawaii seems like a great place to relax and take a vacation, but we are looking at it as an opportunity to start our run at a national championship.

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