In the field of 132 players competing for five qualifying spots and two alternate positions, there are a handful of Cherokee County residents.
Among them are Etowah High School product and current Georgia Tech standout Anders Albertson, and Jared O’Kelley, a recent Creekview graduate bound for Cincinnati. Also competing are Luke Hopkins and Justin Johnson of Canton and former Sequoyah High School standout Riley Davenport, who is now playing collegiately at Charlotte.
Albertson feels he’ll have an advantage over many of the other competitors after playing the course for two straight weeks at the end of May. He was with his Georgia Tech teammates as they vied for an NCAA championship on the same Capital City Club course.
“I’m pretty familiar with the course,” Albertson said. “I had a solid week out there competing in nationals, and the week prior preparing for it. I’ve seen pretty much all the pin places they can use and played a lot of the tees. I don’t think that they can put something out there that I haven’t seen either in nationals or the week leading up to it.”
If Albertson feels his experience will be an advantage, he will share it with at least two other players, Georgia Tech teammate Ollie Schniederjans and Georgia’s Mookie DeMoss.
Aside from his familiarity with the course, Albertson said his game is in a good place. Although it hasn’t translated to any wins this summer, he said that’s not far off.
“I feel good about my game,” he said. “Everything across the board has been improving, so I feel good about that. Everything can come together at any time. I’m just trying in every round to hit the shot in front of me the best that I can. Eventually, it will all take care of itself.”
After Tuesday’s opening round, the field will be cut to the low 40 scores and ties, or anyone within eight strokes of the leader.
The qualifier will lead up to the U.S. Amateur, which will be held next month at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. A second Georgia-based qualifier will take place next week in Athens.