Aug. 11, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
– Bo Andrews is the only golfer in the U.S. Amateur Championship’s field of 312 who is an Atlanta Athletic Club member, and he parlayed his familiarity into a one-under par 71 Monday on the 7,381-yard Riverside Course.
That left the recent Georgia Tech graduate tied for 24th place entering Tuesday’s second round of stroke play before the field is trimmed to 64 for match play.
“I’m taking advantage of my advantage,” he said after shooting 17 pars with a birdie on No. 15 on one of his `home’ courses. “I think [local knowledge provides] more of a comfort, the certainty of your tee lines, and where you can putt from.”
So, Bo knows the AAC.
Beyond this week, though, Bo doesn’t know.
He graduated from Georgia Tech in May, and he may return. Graduate school is an option, and Tech would be a nice place to chase an MBA.
Or, he might try his luck chasing a dollar alongside those in the PGA (if he should first succeed to some degree in golf’s minor leagues).
“I’m still figuring out what I’m doing,” Andrews said minutes after finishing Monday’s round. “I’m just playing this week, and re-grouping after that and seeing where my life is headed.”
Bo has help figuring out the AAC; former Tech teammate Anders Albertson, a rising senior who did not qualify for the tournament, is his caddy.
“He’s a great player and a great guy to have on the bag,” Andrews explained. “We’re best buddies so I was definitely going to accept when he offered. He’s perfect. He carries the bag, we joke around a bit, he confirms what I’m doing.”
Tech connections run deep this week at the AAC.
Andrews’ fellow recent Tech graduates have gone about their business in different ways.
Former Tech teammate Richard Werenski turned pro immediately after the Yellow Jackets lost to Oklahoma State in the NCAAs in early June. He won his first two tournaments on one of the sport’s minor league tours. He’s won a third time since.
Seth Reeves has remained an amateur like Andrews, and he fired a one-over par 72 Monday on the Highlands Course. He’s tied for 70th at one over, and preparing to turn pro as soon as he finishes this tournament 20 minutes from his Suwanee home.
He was happy enough with that 72, allowing that the Highlands course is the tougher of AAC’s two. It has played host, after all, to four majors: the 1981, 2001 and 2011 PGA Championships, and the 1976 U.S. Open.
“You can’t win the tournament the first day … you can definitely lose it out here when you only play 36,” Reeves said after going 2-over on the front side of Highlands and 1-under over the back. “I’m encouraged just because I got through the harder course.
“I’m not going to look at a leader board, but I know that’s pretty good. It doesn’t hurt me, and I love Riverside. I can go out there and shoot 4- or 5-under and be fine.”
Reeves sounds like a young man with a plan.
Bo’s present plan runs out this far: play Highlands Tuesday.
Monday, he toured the Riverside in efficient fashion.
Not bad, considering he knows that course less intimately. The Jackets played the AAC just a few times in his time at Tech.
“I became a member earlier in the summer, and … Riverside I’ve played three times, and Highlands about 10,” Bo said. “The idea was I’ll [play Riverside] once [in the Amateur], and hopefully many more times [on Highlands, where all five days of match play will be contested].”
Andrews, a Raleigh native now living in Atlanta, was sponsored into the AAC by a patron or two of the Tech program, and a, “Titleist guy,” whatever that means.
“I wanted somewhere great to play, and this provided that. The U.S. Amateur being here was icing on the cake,” he said. “They’re all members out here, and they all helped me see how great this place is.”
The AAC is an enormous and especially impressive place.
The U.S. Amateur is the biggest tournament in the world (312 players), and similarly awe-inspiring.
Upon entering the AAC clubhouse, there are four banners showing former champions holding the Havemeyer Trophy. On the left, you have smiling visages of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and on the right there are Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
A Tech man has won this thing more than any other. Bobby Jones took titles in 1924, ’25, `27, ’28 and ’30. This place is on Bobby Jones Drive in Johns Creek, and Jones was a former president of the massive club.
Maybe Andrews will follow in Jones’ footsteps.
After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Tech, Jones earned a graduate English degree from Harvard before going to Emory Law and becoming an attorney in Atlanta.
Andrews, who graduated with high honors in Management, isn’t sure yet.
He knows this: nominated by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association for an NCAA-funded post-graduate scholarship, he won one – if he wants to use it.
“I’m just kind of feeling it out, just focusing on this week and after that I’ll figure out what I want to do,” he said. “I haven’t scheduled anything beyond this week.”
Andrews is not entered into graduate school for the fall semester. So, he can continue playing amateur golf if he chooses.
Then again, he’s not entered into graduate school for the fall semester. So, he can go pro next week if he’d like. As he said, “There’s always a chance for anything.”
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