June 28, 2016
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– At the end of another good weekend for himself and Georgia Tech golf, Vincent Whaley is heading home, back to Atlanta, for a brief break from the game before hitting the road for more golf than most non-professionals could imagine.
He would do well to pause and value his first three years on The Flats.
The rising senior tied for seventh place Sunday in the Northeast Amateur with a three-under par 273 at the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence, R.I. Yet as he visits his parents in Fayetteville before traveling to Texas to see friends, it’s instructive to look back.
His former Tech teammate, Ollie Schniederjans, banked his first professional win Sunday, capturing the Air Capital Classic in Wichita. That $112,500 win moved him to No. 3 on the Web.com Tour money list with $245,713, and made him the second former Yellow Jacket this summer to lock up a PGA Tour card for 2017.
Schniederjans was a teammate at Tech with Richy Werenski, who’s now No. 2 on the Web.com money list with $263,470 and likewise headed for the PGA Tour next year as he’s assured of finishing among the top 25 to lock up a card.
Ollie was also a teammate of Whaley, a frustrated freshman as Schniederjans put together a brilliant junior season that included six tournament wins and a match-play loss in the NCAA Championships in 2013-14.
Even as Whaley struggled with a wrist injury that year, he learned.
“There was a lot of anxiety because I wasn’t sure I made the right decision [to not redshirt]. After I sprained my wrist … with all of that combined, it wasn’t much of a freshman year. I kind of hung out with Ollie. I was just trying to take in everything he offered: the way he practiced and the way he excelled at school.
“And my roommate my freshman year, Bo Andrews, was like the perfect role model with his 3.8 GPA, he was a captain … Bo was kind of a standout.”
Whaley’s recent season was his best, and not only because he won the Clemson Invitational. The Jackets’ leading scorer (72.73) finished in the top 10 six times, and three times wound up in the top five.
Tech struggled, however, and for that reason, the junior finance major is already looking forward to 2016-17. Head coach Bruce Heppler can barely contain his excitement over the Noonan Practice Facility coming fully online later this summer, not to mention a strong class of four freshmen who are on their way.
The Jackets will have far greater ability to work on their short games, and Whaley’s looking forward to that as well. He’s more eager to help straighten out other inconsistencies that plagued Tech last season after Schniederjans and Anders Albertson – two of the most accomplished Jackets ever – graduated.
“I refuse to use [the lack of a short-game practice facility last season] as a crutch, as the reason we played bad,” he said. “I get it to an extent, but it’s definitely not the sole reason we struggled … but it will definitely help.
“The indoor facility with the TrackMan (launch monitor), and the sand … the guys should get really good. And I see where it will help the team in the future.”
Mike and Michelle Whaley moved from McKinney, Texas, to Georgia, and Vincent this week will visit them and his older and younger sisters outside of Atlanta. Then, he’ll check in on his pals back in the Lone Star state before a golf-heavy close to his summer.
Since the spring semester ended in May, he’s played in U.S. Open Sectionals in Roswell, the Monroe Invitational in Pittsford, N.Y., the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa., and the Northeast Amateur.
After a little down time, he’ll play in a qualifier for the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Auburn/Opelika, Ala., and then in an amateur event in Myrtle Beach unless he qualifies for the Barbasol.
Next, he’ll try to make the U.S. Amateur field in a Roswell qualifier before amateur events in Niagara Falls and Lake Forest, Ill., before the U.S. Amateur Aug. 15-20 in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
With just 21 hours standing between him and his degree, Whaley just earned ACC All-Academic honors for the second time along with junior Chris Petefish. Still, he’s not inclined to be boastful. He’s learned a lot, humility included.
“I’m definitely not super smart. I struggled when I got to Tech,” he said. “I got a C in one of my first classes … everyone around me is a genius. I think I’m going to do 12 hours in the fall, and nine in the spring. I’m doing my Capstone [project] in the fall to make spring easier.”