September 8, 2013

GT, UGA will battle to the end at Collegiate

Devin Golden

— In the playing format commonly used at men’s college golf tournaments, in which teams enter five players and the low four scores in a given round count toward their total, the leaderboard can change in a hurry.

That’s what happened Saturday at the Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic, leaving Georgia and Georgia Tech primed for a final-round faceoff today at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face.

The Bulldogs shot a 6-under 282 in the second round — for a 573 total — on the par-72 layout and gained seven strokes on their rival Yellow Jackets, who are at 569 and four strokes up on the Bulldogs after leading North Carolina by 10 strokes after Friday’s first round.

Play begins at 8 a.m. today in the 14-team, 54-hole tournament, which is in its 25th edition. The event is free to attend.

The 18th-hole leaderboard showed tournament host Georgia Tech, ranked No. 8 by Golf Week, with a 10-stroke lead over Georgia and Clemson through 12 holes Saturday.

But in those last six holes, a lot can happen.

Georgia’s Nicholas Reach finished with an eagle, two birdies and a par in the final four holes for a 73, while teammate Michael Cromie (68) had an eagle on the par-5 15th. Joey Garber — who shot a 69 and is tied for third overall with Cromie and LSU’s Stewart Jolly (68) at 4-under — and teammate Greyson Sigg (72) each went 1-under through the final six holes. That totaled an 8-under run over the last six holes for the Bulldogs.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Cromie said, noting being in second and chasing Georgia Tech will “add fuel to the fire.”

When Roach finished, the 15th-ranked Bulldogs were still eight strokes behind. Even that difference was manageable with a round to go, he said.

“Absolutely,” Roach said. “Especially on this course, with these fast greens. Eight guys through two holes could be a 16-stroke difference.”

That means North Carolina (578), Clemson (579), LSU (584) and Texas (584) — who rounded out the top five — also have an outside shot at the team title. Texas, ranked third, is the defending champion at the tournament.

Garber was the only Georgia player to finish the first round under par. He shot a 69 on Saturday, and finished with a birdie as leader and rival Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schniederjans finished with a par, giving the Bulldogs one last stroke on the Yellow Jackets entering the last 18 holes.

Georgia Tech’s Anders Albertson shot a 71, but Seth Reeves (74) and Richy Werenski (77) finished over par.

“We were comfortable because we think we’re the best team here,” Schniederjans said of the 10-stroke lead after Friday. “I don’t know what happened to our team, but we obviously didn’t have a great round.”

Schniederjans held the top spot on the individual leaderboard for the second straight day. He shot a 67 Saturday and is 10-under overall, with a three-stroke edge on North Carolina’s Bailey Patrick, who also finished his second round with a birdie to gain a stroke on the leader. They were grouped together with Garber — and will be again today for a 10:20 a.m. start — and Schniederjans started the back nine with four consecutive birdies, while Patrick had birdies on holes 10, 11 and 12.