Several of those near the top of the leaderboard — including a trio from Georgia Tech — recently competed in the NCAA championship at the course along the Cherokee and Fulton county line.
Two Yellow Jackets, Anders Albertson and Seth Reeves, finished the first round tied for the lead at 4-under 66. Teammate Ollie Schniederjans was two shots back, part of a three-way tie for third.
If the qualifier ended after one round, the three Georgia Tech standouts would move on to the U.S. Amateur, with berths guaranteed for the top five. But they must still compete today, with the field having been shrunk to those within eight shots of the lead.
Albertson said playing at the course in the week leading up to the NCAA championship, as well as the tournament itself, provided valuable experience ahead of Tuesday’s round.
“I was pretty comfortable,” the Etowah High School product said. “They moved some of the tees around. They moved them up, which you would think would make the course easier, but it made it a little bit harder because I wasn’t familiar with some of the lines you could take. Still, I thought I managed it well.”
Albertson carded seven birdies and three bogeys and shot equal 33s on both the front and back.
“I knew where I wanted to leave myself to hit the best shot that I could on every hole,” Albertson said. “We have spent a lot of time out there and a lot of practice rounds.”
Schniederjans was in a group at 68 with Alabama’s Scott Strohmeyer — another player who competed in the NCAA championship — and Jacob Tilton, who recently completed his eligibility at Armstrong Atlantic. Another stroke back was former Sequoyah High School standout Riley Davenport, who now plays at Charlotte.
Like Albertson, Davenport felt he knew the course better than a lot of the field. He lives just a few miles from Capital City Club and plays the course frequently.
“The course is in good shape,” said Davenport, one of five to shoot 69. “It was tough, but it was fair out there. It’s always the roughs out here that are key. You have to keep it in the short stuff. I’ve played here a bunch. There are some spots out here that it helps to know where to hit it and where not to hit it. For the most part, I did a good job with that.”
Davenport was 2-under on the front nine with just one bogey. The back nine was another story as he had three birdies and four bogeys.
“I had a lot of birdies, but a made some mistakes, too,” Davenport said. “I just have to eliminate some of the bogeys out there (today).”
Schniederjans wasn’t as convinced that his familiarity had much to do with his success. He said that Capital City Club isn’t a tricky course, and that any golfer who has played a couple of practice rounds there would be on even ground with him.
Schniederjans added that the success of he, Albertson and Reeves spoke to the strength of the Georgia Tech golf program. Another of their teammates, Bo Andrews, qualified for the U.S. Amateur a day earlier through an event in North Carolina.
“It just speaks to how strong the players at the top are, not anything else” Schniederjans. “It would be really cool if we could have four or five guys (from Georgia Tech) at the U.S. Amateur.”
Others that made the cut included recent Creekview graduate and Cincinnati-bound golfer Jared O’Kelley, Ball Ground’s Brandon Price and Canton’s Justin Johnson — all of whom made it in on the cut line with 74s.
Looking toward today’s final round, Albertson said it’s all about staying consistent.
“I don’t focus on trying to qualify,” he said. “I just focus on trying to play well and win, and the rest takes care of itself.”
Schniederjans shared a similar sentiment.
“I just have to play good,” he said. “You just have to keep your head in it. You can start wondering what the other scores are going to be and get goofed up. It’s different for everybody, I guess. But I know, for me, I just have to play like myself and I will make it.”