Oct. 20, 2012
Alpharetta, Ga. – Georgia Tech received good results from the bottom of its lineup Saturday, as Richard Werenski fired a 3-under-par 69 and Michael Hines added a 1-under-71 as the 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets held second place after 36 holes of the United States Collegiate Championship at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Anders Albertson added a 75, while Ollie Schniederjans and Seth Reeves each shot 76 as the Yellow Jackets matched their opening round score of 291, and have a 36-hole total of 582 (+6), two strokes behind defending champion UCLA. The 7th-ranked Bruins posted the best round of the tournament thus far Saturday with a 5-under-par 283, surging from sixth place after the first round to take over the lead.
The four of the top six teams on the 36-hole leaderboard are all former USCC champions. UCLA has a two-round total of 580 (+4), followed by Tech at 582 (+6), No. 4 Southern California and No. 20 Oklahoma State, each at 588 (+12). The Trojans, leaders after the first round, shot 11-over-par 299 Saturday. Virginia holds down fifth place at 589 (+13), and two-time champion Clemson is in sixth place at 590 (+14).
“We need to get all five of our guys off to a good start tomorrow and have five guys in the round when we get to 11, 12 and 13,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “We need to get to the back with all five guys having a chance to post a good score.
Two years ago, Tech opened a big lead after day 1 and continued to expand it on the way to a 28-shot victory over UCLA. Last year, the Yellow Jackets led after 36 holes and led by seven shots at the turn in the final round before tumbling to fourth place as the Bruins charged to a victory. This year, Heppler’s team is chasing the Bruins, but remains close.
“I would take a zillion shots ahead, but with not leading and it’s only a couple of shots, they might be more relaxed with that than being out front,” said Heppler. “Maybe they’ll play a little better from a couple of shots behind.”
Talor Gooch of Oklahoma State has the 36-hole individual lead with rounds of 68-71 (139, -5), and is two strokes ahead of UCLA’s Anton Arboleda and Auburn’s Michael Johnson (141, -3). Patrick Rodgers of Stanford is in fourth at 2-under 142. Four other players are in red figures at 1-under 143, including Georgia Tech freshman Shun Yat Hak, who is competing this weekend as an individual and has shot rounds of 72-71.
Werenski, a junior from South Hadley, Mass., who conducted a lengthy short-game practice session following his opening round 78 Friday, saw immediate dividends Saturday, recording five birdies and two bogeys to post his best round of the fall. Hines, a freshman from Acworth, Ga., was 3-over-par through six holes, but birdied five of the next eight holes and parred in after that.
“I worked until dark last night hitting a bunch of chips and putts, and I seemed to get some tempo and some feel back now,” said Werenski. “I still didn’t hit the ball all that well today, but my short game really helped.”
“It was great to see Richy put his disappointment behind him. He’s probably not going to win the tournament individually, but he can help us. We need to get everybody having that outlook,” said Heppler. “Michael was 3-over through 6, then birdies 7, 8, 9 and 11. That was a really good round for a freshman, and he really saved the day for us to be in the tournament.”
Schniederjans, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., is tied for 15th place at 146, while Hines and Reeves are tied for 21st at 147. Bo Andrews, a Tech junior competing as an individual, has shot 73-72 in the first two rounds and is tied for 11th place at 1-over 145.
The final round will be webcast live at www.golfweek.com/uscc. The 15-player field includes 3 of the top 6 teams on the Golfweek rankings and 12 of top 25.
The USCC is presented by Atlanta Classic Cars/Mercedes-Benz, Cisco, David Oakey Designs and AmeriFleet Transportation.
The 54-hole tournament, which benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation and the GSGA Foundation, continues Saturday with tee times at 8:40 a.m. and concludes on Sunday.