Sept. 25, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
As Jacob Joiner teed off Friday in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup, he took a better feeling into the second golf tournament of the fall than the first. That could be good for No. 9 Georgia Tech and the young Yellow Jackets.
Joiner said he was uptight a couple weeks ago, yet the sophomore from Leesburg, Ga., won his first collegiate title when his four-under-par score of 212 was good enough over three rounds to capture the Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm, near Dalton. Tech finished fifth overall.
“It was definitely different just because Ollie and Anders were really solid . . . that was two scores that would just about always count,” Joiner said. “I think it was different for me, personally. As sophomores and juniors we have to step up and be leaders. I think everybody was nervous. I know I was.”
As Tech today began play in the DSG Challenge Cup at The Golf Club outside of Nashville against five other ACC squads and six from the SEC, they were a bit more experienced and even a little older. Redshirt junior Michael Hines, the squad’s oldest player, qualified for a travel spot, replacing freshman Tyler Joiner.
Heppler said before the season that this is the first time in 18 years that he has not returned at least one player with All-America honors, or even All-ACC acclaim, yet Jacob Joiner feels that the Jackets are all the more steeled and ready to roll.
They were tested at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. Tech led after the first round and slipped to third after the second. Joiner also backslid on the second day and then rallied on the final day to win.
“Where Ollie and Anders were there last year coach [Heppler] has kind of stepped into that spot,” Joiner said. “As far as the team, Vince and Hines are the two juniors. Hines is basically a senior because he redshirted.
“He has a lot of insight as far as how to prepare because as a freshman he played a lot. His last two years he’s kind of struggled, but he still has been here for four years and he knows what he’s doing. Vince is the one guy who had actually won a college tournament, and he finished the best in NCAAs.”
Joiner played in five tournaments for Tech as a freshman, when his best finish was a tie for 27th in the Puerto Rico Classic early last spring.
Ironically, the absence of Albertson and Schniederjans – who earned All-ACC honors four times each – may help the Jackets. Heppler said before the season that not having two players so talented in the way may have prompted an increased work rate in some players.
Even in absentia, Albertson and Schniederjans have helped Joiner. He’s embracing some of their methods.
“Once you learn to control your nerves, that helps you play better . . . and I think that’s what we learned from [the Carpet Capital Collegiate],” Jacob Joiner said. “I think my golf game has gotten a little better. I worked a lot on my swing.
“I’ve talked to both Ollie and Anders, and they really helped me with that. This tournament I could take it one shot at a time so much better, night and day.”
Joiner had to dial in during the second round, bogeying 13, 14 and 15.
“Then, I birdied 18, which was a good finish to the day and that boosted me into the last round,” he said. “Take it one shot at a time. It’s really cool when you have the same mental aspect through the whole round. At first I got nervous. You’re always going to get nervous when you have the lead, but before I hit the shots I was able to tone that down and focus on the shot.”