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#STINGDAILY: Six Ways to Sunday

Aug. 10, 2013

Follow U.S. Amateur coverage

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Not long after Bo Andrews arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Friday, the Georgia Tech student-golfer turned meteorologist. His initial forecast was grim in advance of the U.S. Amateur Championship, which begins nearby on Monday.

“Right now, it’s pouring,” said Andrews, one of a whopping six Yellow Jackets to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. “I think it’s supposed to clear up, at least in my head.”

Bo knows; you gotta stay positive.

Much of Massachusetts was under flood watch/warning Friday, although as Andrews suggested the forecast for Saturday and Sunday is much improved.

Even if the weather fails to turn up, the rising senior is counting on a different kind of warm, sunny skies at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

At the time of Friday’s phone chat, his buds were on their way; Tech golfers Seth Reeves, Anders Albertson, Michael Hines, Ollie Schniederjans and “hometown” Richard Werenski all qualified for the U.S. Am. They are Tech’s happy half dozen.

This is believed to be the first time that six active Tech golfers have been in the U.S. Amateur field, and in fact the second time that as many as five active Jackets competed at once.

Andrews is looking forward to next week much more than before other summer tournaments, both because it’s the U.S. Am and because most of the gang will be together.

“It’s just better because I’m playing with four or five of my best friends, and competing for a championship,” he said.

Tech head coach Bruce Heppler and assistant Brennan Webb will travel to Brookline Sunday. Heppler said he’ll stick around, “as long as somebody has a tee time.”

The summer amateur circuit qualifies as a grind with an abundance of down time. That won’t be the case as the Jackets and 306 other competitors go through practice rounds Saturday and Sunday, and two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday. Then, the field is whittled to 64 for match play beginning Wednesday.

“I would think the [team] karma would be helpful,” said Heppler, who will spend some of his time in the Northeast recruiting. “They’ll go to dinners together rather than sitting in your room by yourself.

“Any time you can somehow take the edge off of all the down time when you’re sitting around, I think that sits well.”

That’s a safe prediction. Andrews confirmed it. He and his college teammates will stay in the same hotel, many with family members.

“From an outsider’s standpoint, college [team golf] is more exciting,” he said. “You’re not only competing to do well for yourself, but your teammates are cheering for you was well.

“We kind of all go with the flow on the road. A lot. We text every other day. It’s group texting; it’s pretty easy to get a funny thread going.”

Andrews declined to shed light on funny mass text threads. It was clear, however, that he was excited by the prospect of being joined by his teammates.

Heppler is in the same group.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had this many current guys. They’ve all had pretty nice summers. This is an enthusiastic way for them to start their year,” the coach said, mindful that class begins at Tech Aug. 19 after the U.S. Amateur runs Aug. 12-18.

“It should be very, very exciting. Hopefully they’ll all play well, and maybe they’ll run into each other Wednesday [when match play begins].”

Werenski, whose home in South Hadley, Mass., is a little more than one hour away from Brookline, may or may not have home-course advantage, especially since he said last week that he’d been to the Country Club but never played it.

“It’s all kind of how you look at it,” Heppler said. “Is it pressure being at home and playing in front of friends and family, or are you more relaxed because you’re home?”

Andrews said there is little doubt about one thing: “Richy has a car so I think we’ll take advantage of that.”

In a few weeks, the Jackets will begin the 2013-’14 season likely ranked as one of the nation’s top 15 college squads. The U.S. Amateur looks like a nice jump start.

“It’s a pretty cool moment to be a part of,” Andrews said. “I think it could definitely be a good thing. If you have a bunch of guys play well, you could just keep it going. Then, school golf is even better because you’re putting on a uniform.”

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