With five of its top six players from last year returning, Georgia Tech begins its fall schedule this weekend at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, a 54-hole event played Friday through Sunday at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga. The Yellow jackets are ranked No. 4 in the pre-season countdown in Golfweek magazine.
Tech has been the host institution for this event since its inception in 1989 and has won it six times, though not since 2001, and finished third in last year’s event. The 15-team field this weekend includes seven of the nation’s pre-season top 25 teams, including No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Texas, No. 6 Auburn, No. 15 North Florida, No. 19 Georgia and No. 24 Clemson.
Head coach Bruce Heppler, beginning his 18th season at Tech, is taking a veteran unit to The Farm, including juniors Bo Andrews, Seth Reeves and Richard Werenski, and sophomores Anders Albertson and Ollie Schniederjans. They were the top finishers in the Yellow Jackets’ recently completed 90-hole qualifying tournament.
The quintet enjoyed a successful summer in amateur events and combined for 16 top-10 finishes last year. James White, a two-time All-American and leading scorer last year, graduated, but the five returners have plenty of experience.
“I’m not surprised by the results of qualifying,” said Heppler, who was named ACC Coach of the year last spring for the seventh time. “They’ve played a lot of golf here and have knowledge and experience on these golf courses. So they know the drill. They handled the stress of golf with consequences.
“There are still a lot of unknowns. Everybody is starting over again. Among those five players, you hope there has been improvement since last May. James played No. 1 for the last two years, so we need to see who can fill that role. We just don’t know which one it’ll be. It’s going to be exciting to see the development of the group as we go.”
Schniederjans, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., qualified for match play at the U.S. Amateur in August after winning the sectional qualifier in Atlanta and posting two other top-10 finishes in amateur events. He won the team’s qualifying tournament. Werenski, a junior from South Hadley, Mass., won the prestigious Porter Cup and also qualified for the U.S. Amateur. Each had two top-10 finishes in collegiate events last year and finished fifth and sixth on the team in scoring (72.6 and 72.8).
Albertson, a sophomore from Woodstock, Ga., returns after making the All-ACC team, recording five top-10 finishes and posting the second-best stroke average on the team (71.4) behind White. Reeves, a junior from Duluth, had a 72.4 stroke average and a pair of top-10 finishes, while Andrews, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., also averaged 72.4 but racked up five top-10 performances.
Tech is being allowed to enter an individual in the tournament this week, and Heppler has tapped freshman Shun Yat Hak to make his collegiate debut. Hak, who goes by the first name “Jason,” was the nation’s top-ranked junior player in the class of 2012.