Sept. 16, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Seth Reeves isn’t about to go around slamming his thumb into things, although the way he played over the weekend in the Tar Heel Intercollegiate, he might want to reconsider.
Reeves missed four days of practice preceding the Tournament because of a jammed thumb, but was giving the thumbs-up following the 54-hole event, taking home the singles title by four shots with an 8-under-par 208. The two-day, 54-hole event was a bonanza for Georgia Tech, which shot a collective -22, winning by a whopping 20 shots. Richard Werenski finished at 4-under to finish second, Ollie Schneiderjans was one shot back of Werenski in third and Anders Albertson finished one shot back of Schneiderjans in a three-way tie for fourth.
“It was really cool to finish and know that I had won but more important to me, it was cool to know we had a 1-2-3 and tied-for-4th finish,” said Reeves, a redshirt senior, who took home his second collegiate championship and the fourth of his career.
“We’re very confident,” he added. “I think Coach has been telling us for a while that we’re really good. I think we kind of knew, everyone individually, that we’ve got the talent and the skill but we now actually have that belief. We believe in ourselves and we believe that we can be the best team in the country.”
There was no reason to waiver in that belief over the weekend. While the Jackets had never played on the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill prior to their Friday practice, they appeared right at home and came out in the opening 36-hole day swinging for the fences. It was the right approach on that course.
“I think everyone liked it,” said Reeves of Finley. “It was somewhat long but we have a long team so long distance isn’t a problem. There was a pretty solid track and we had a practice round and figured everything out.”
Reeves figured out that the grip-it-and-rip-it approach was the best way to go as opposed to his tendency of trying to be too fine in his approach shots. The back-to-back 74s in the two first round of the previous weekend’s Carpet Capital Collegiate was the last straw.
“I started doing it last week at the Carpet Capital, just kind of letting everything go, embracing myself as a golfer, being a long hitter,” he said. “[At the Tar Heel] I kind of just let everything go and really tried to bomb everything. I was able to hit the ball closer to the holes than maybe some other people in the tournament and I just took advantage of that. That allowed me to make a lot of birdies.”
In his last four rounds — the final round of the Carpet Capital and the three rounds of the Tar Heel Intercollegiate Reeves has shot 67, 68, 69 and 70, and is a collective 13-under, with 22 birdies and has made at least five birdies in each of his four rounds.
On Saturday, his first round of the week after hurting his thumb, Reeves had four birdies on the front nine, and finished the round at -3.
Following a bogey on the first hole of the second go-round, he proceeded to make two more birdies and an eagle on the par-five sixth to take a 2-under into the back nine. He then hit three straight birdies to get to a weekend-best six-under. Following a hiccup that saw back-to-back bogeys and a double-bogey, he finished with a pair of birdies to end the day at three-under 69.
By the time Tech left the course, it had a 15-shot lead and rendered Sunday a day to basically chase each other.
“That was really fun,” Reeves said. “I don’t think all of us necessarily knew where we stood. I was in the dark from where I stood most of the rounds. Of course I knew that I had to be playing pretty well but it was a 36-hole day so after we finish our first round we start again. You don’t really talk to any media, you don’t talk to anybody, you just keep playing. It was a really good surprise for me to finish 18 because I didn’t even know that I was leading by I think five going into the last couple of holes. I thought I had like a two-shot lead or a one-shot lead or something. I decided I didn’t want to give myself the benefit of the doubt or anything.”
The 36-hole first day format was an advantage for Reeves, still feeling effects from the thumb injury that had first occurred a few weeks back.
“For me, it was almost do whatever is going to get you to get the ball doing what it needs to do,” he said. “It was all just getting into the groove playing again. I think the first round ball-striking I needed to get used to playing again and that kind of came around. It was good for me to just keep going get that second 18 just polished off. That probably what worked out for me was to just get back into the groove of tournament golf and just swinging out on the course.”
The Jackets are eager to just keep swinging — they’ll next be in action in the Brickyard Collegiate Oct. 4-6 at the Brickyard at Riverside in Macon. They’re 2-for-2 in Tournaments thus far, and are gaining renown, including a tweet from Golfweek’s Cassie Stein calling them national title contenders.
“Not to say we’re going to win every tournament but we believe we can,” Reeves said. “I think that’s been the difference from last year, the belief. We’ve had a hard-working group for the last two years and everything has kind of come together. Everybody’s relaxed, we have a lot of experience, we’re not putting any pressure on ourselves and the camaraderie is really good. So it’s a lot of things but mainly the belief. We know that we’re one of the best teams in the country, if not the best, that has helped us through the first two events.”
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