1. The Georgia Tech golf team played this past weekend’s ACC championship led by All-American seniors Ollie Schniederjans and Anders Albertson, but also with two freshmen and a sophomore who had earned a spot on the five-man team in just one event as a freshman.
The Yellow Jackets were in a field that was as competitive as coach Bruce Heppler had seen at the ACC tournament in five or six years that included No. 1 Florida State. The end result was the same as it had been for the previous five out of six years – with the Jackets receiving the championship trophy. This one had a twist – the Jackets earned their hardware by beating Clemson on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Old North State Club in New London, N.C.
Said coach Bruce Heppler, who now has led Tech to 11 ACC titles in 20 years, “It was pretty gratifying.”
Freshmen Chris Petefish and James Clark tied for 23rd (even par) and 36th (6-over-par) respectively, with sophomore Vince Whaley also tying at 36th. Schniederjans, defending his ACC championship from a year ago, finished fourth at 9-under par.
Sudden death between two teams is played in fivesomes, with two players from one team and three from the other in one group and the opposite in a second fivesome. After the teams tied with a combined 1-under score in the first hole, they returned to the tee box at No. 18, a par 5.
Freshmen Petefish and Clark put the pressure on Clemson with a birdie and par, respectively, matching the 1-under score that Clemson’s threesome put up. Heppler texted back the scores to assistant coach Brennan Webb, back with the second group. A Clemson player had dumped his tee shot in the water, meaning the Jackets were basically playing three on one – all Tech had to do to at least extend the playoff was to have one of the three players birdie, and the lone remaining Tiger would have to do likewise just to survive.
“We had all three of the guys take a run at the green to give us three chances to make two (birdies),” Heppler said.
Schniederjans put his second shot on the green and Albertson and Whaley were just off the putting surface. All three made birdie to clinch the title.
The Jackets celebrated by flying home and returning home to study for exams, which began Monday morning. They did allow a brief stop at Jersey Mike’s.
“Yeah, went crazy,” Heppler said. “The check was less than $90, so it was a big-time celebration.”
It is one of the more remarkable ACC titles for Heppler and Tech, given that the Jackets were so inexperienced. It’s a credit to him and the leadership of Schniederjans and Albertson, the former of whom decided to come back for his senior year in part to guide this young team.
For Schniederjans and Albertson, who have been anchors for the past four seasons, it was another achievement in a career full of them. Albertson will be a four-time All-ACC selection and Schniederjans will be a three-time honoree. Both figure to make All-America again, and Albertson received the prestigious Byron Nelson Award, which considers golf, academics and citizenship. Schniederjans finished last summer as the top-ranked amateur in the world and will receive berths in the U.S. and British opens as a result. Both will represent the U.S. in the Palmer Cup in June, a Ryder Cup-style event for collegians between the U.S. and Europe. Both will also graduate Saturday.
Their careers are possibly two more events from completion, but you’d be hard pressed to find a pair of Tech teammates and classmates who have accomplished more together.
The Jackets are No. 11 in the country, and awaiting assignment to an NCAA regional, which will take place May 14-16. From there, they’ll try to qualify for their 27th NCAA tournament appearance since 1985.
2. Albertson shared medalist honors with Virginia Tech’s Trevor Cone and Louisville’s Robin Sciot-Siegrist, the second ACC title of his career. Only four other golfers had done it previously, at least three of whom (Tech’s David Duval, Wake Forest’s Scott Hoch and Clemson’s Charles Warren) had PGA Tour careers.
After a shaky start to his senior season in the fall, Albertson has been on a tear. Albertson was a combined 25-over-par in his first four events of the fall with no top-10 finishes. In the seven events since, he’s a combined 44-under-par with five top-10’s, including wins in his past two events. Albertson came in at 11-under.
“He had a terrible event in October at our place (the U.S. Collegiate Championship, where he was 18-over and tied for 76th), but since then he’s played almost as well as anybody in the country,” Heppler said. “He’s in a good place.”
3. Both Tech tennis teams exceeded expectations at their respective ACC tournaments in Cary, N.C. The women, ranked No. 25 in the country, reached the finals, losing 4-0 to No. 11 Virginia in the pursuit of Tech’s fifth ACC title and first since 2010.
Megan Kurey sent the Jackets to the finals by winning a three-set match for the winning point in a 4-3 win over Florida State in the semifinals.
The men upset No. 35 Notre Dame in the opening round and took out No. 14 Virginia Tech to reach the semifinals, where they lost to Wake Forest, 4-0. It was Tech’s first semifinals appearance since 2011 and ended a three-match winning streak that followed a five-match losing streak.
The Tech women are now 16-9, while the men’s team is 14-12. The announcement for the NCAA tournament field for both will be Tuesday at 5 p.m.
4. The Tech baseball team took a crucial series this past weekend, taking two games out of three from Clemson after stumbling through a three-game sweep the week prior at Boston College.
The Jackets won the first and third games of the series, 4-2 and 5-4 in 10 innings. In the rubber game, Ryan Peurifoy won it with a two-out RBI single to score the game-winner. It followed pitcher a strong nine-inning outing by starter Brandon Gold (three runs, seven strikeouts, one walk, eight hits).
Tech improved to 26-17 overall and 11-13 in the ACC. The Jackets are third in the Coastal Division at 11-13, one game ahead of Virginia.
They did drop to No. 28 in the RPI ratings after reaching No. 11 after taking a series from Virginia April 10-12. Tech actually lost 14 spots from last week after losing to Kennesaw State (84th in RPI) and the Clemson series (No. 81). It may fall further with upcoming home series against Presbyterian (No. 139) and Pittsburgh (No. 175). Pressure will be on to not just win, but sweep. Tech closes the regular season at Miami (No. 3).