June 28, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Anders Albertson’s game may be coming home, and that may or may not have to do with the fact that he just finished a tournament near Georgia Tech. There is no doubt that his Tech golf coaches have helped.
The rising senior fired a two-under par 70 Saturday in the fourth and final round of the Dogwood Invitational at the Druid Hills Country Club to finish fourth in a talented field.
That’s kind of what you ought to expect out of Albertson, yet he had a peculiar junior season for the Yellow Jackets in which consistency was not a word in discussion about his play.
Having won the ACC medal as a sophomore and earned third team All-America honors, he appeared primed for 2013-’14.
The fall went well enough.
He tied for 12th at the Carpet Capital Classic, tied for fourth at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate, tied for 16th at the Brickyard, and finished third in both the U.S. Collegiate Championship and the prestigious Western Refining College All-America.
The Etowah High graduate was not spectacular at any point, but with a fall record of 301-33 he had a rock-solid autumn in the rear view.
After Christmas break, he hopped on a roller coaster.
Never mind for a moment the tournaments or the fields, his first five outings produced a tied for 74th, a tied for sixth, another tied for 74th, a tie for 53rd and a tie for 20th.
With only the postseason ahead of him, Albertson’s spring record at that point was 205-222.
Then, he rocked again.
Although Albertson opened with a 76 at the ACCs on a day when all scores but that of teammate Ollie Schniederjans were stupid high amid foul weather and wind, he tied for second overall after shooting 68-65 from there. That 65 was the low round of his college career.
Only Schniederjans finished ahead of Albertson.
He was back.
Although Albertson scuffled to a 73 in the first round of the NCAA Raleigh Regional, he finished in eighth place at two-under par 211.
So Anders looked to be back in the groove at exactly the right time.
The NCAA championship had another idea.
Albertson couldn’t find his way around Prairie Dunes Country Club (Kan.), and tied for 125th out of 156 golfers in stroke play.
Unlike Schniederjans, who took a few days off from the mental grind after tying for medalist honors at the NCAAs only to lose in a playoff to Stanford’s Cameron Wilson, Albertson dove right back into practice the very next day.
He’s a big thinker.
Georgia Tech golf coach Bruce Heppler is a big help there.
When it comes to swing mechanics, Albertson – like many tech teammates – goes to swing coach Jeff Patton at the Golf Club of Georgia.
On the matters of managing gray matter, Heppler is your Highness.
Even when he’s not around.
Neither Heppler nor Tech assistant Brennan Webb were at the Dogwood; they were both in Alabama recruiting at a juniors event.
Yet Albertson and other Tech golfers stay in touch.
“I wouldn’t ask coach Heppler for swing advice because that’s why I have Jeff,” Anders said. “Coach Heppler has seen me play golf for seven years [dating back to recruitment] and for three years consistently he’s seen every round of college golf.
“They [Heppler and Webb] know my game, and how I play, and have their opinions on how I can improve.”
That would be psychological advice, sometimes pseudo-psychological counsel.
Heppler’s baseline advice is simple time after time: stop thinking so much. He tweaks his counsel on a case-by-case basis.
That advice is sometimes trickier to deliver because the typical Tech golfer is so very much like the typical Tech student – super smart.
I bet there is no way to prove it, but my theory is that Tech golfers over-think more than most, maybe all, college golfers.
You will not find many, if any, Grip-It-And-Rip-It golfers on the Flats.
Recently graduated Seth Reeves, who finished 12th at the Dogwood, evolved – finally – into a golfer of this sort over the bitter end of his junior season and all through his senior season.
He earned All-America honors each spring upon melding his physical skills – built around a long game – with a softer psychology that Heppler and Webb advised late in the spring of 2013.
Georgia Tech was well represented at the Dogwood.
Redshirt sophomore Michael Hines did not make the cut.
Albertson, like Reeves, can over-think. They both know it.
It’s a good thing that Heppler remains on call.
“It’s year round. He coaches you every day that you would want it. Just because I’m away and traveling doesn’t mean that he’s not going to continue to coach,” Albertson said. “We’ll continue to talk. I’ll call them on my way home tonight, and talk about what I can improve upon.”
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