His calmer nerves paid dividends at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Golf Course as he won his match-play contest against UNLV’s Kurt Kitayama 2 and 1.
It was one of three match wins the Yellow Jackets secured to advance into today’s semifinal match of the NCAA championship against Alabama.
Albertson, a former Etowah High School standout, went up three after winning holes 9 and 10, only to see Kitayama come right back with birdies on 12 and 14 to cut the lead to one. But Albertson pushed his advantage back to two with a key birdie putt on No. 15 and held on to clinch the win at 17.
Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said Albertson seemed calm at breakfast Friday morning and it carried over to the course.
“(Kitayama) made three birdies in a row on him, and what’s nice about being three up is that, if a guy makes three birdies on you, you are still up,” Heppler said.
Albertson’s putt on 15 was almost identical to one he faced on the same hole Thursday. The difference Friday was that he made the putt.
“Coach Heppler told me to put a little more on it,” Albertson said of the shot. “I gave it a little more room on the high side and it snuck in.”
While the putt on 15 was what sealed the match for Albertson, it was a much earlier hole that gave the sophomore some momentum.
Throughout the week, he struggled on No. 9, bogeying the par-4 in each of his three previous rounds. On Friday, he shot par, besting Kitayama’s bogey.
“It’s a good hole,” Albertson said. “It’s hard. I missed it in the right spot (Friday), so I was able to get up and down and win the hole. Any time you get a win on a hole, that’s positive in match play.”
Heppler, who walked with Albertson throughout the day, said he told his player to approach the pin on No. 9 differently.
“I told him to just put it in a place where he could chip it,” Heppler said. “The day before, he was in the bunker left. (On Friday), we just decided to hit it right there in the front and then leave him with an easy chip shot.”
Albertson took nothing away from Kitayama, saying they both played well.
“It was a good match between Kurt and I,” Albertson said. “He played great, putted awesome. I’m fortunate to come out with a win. We had a lot of lead changes. I’d get up and he would keep coming back. Hats off to him. He did great.”
Albertson will be paired with Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt in today’s semifinal. The pair will tee off at 10:45 a.m.