Ousted Jackets built golf foundation

MILTON -- The season ended for the Georgia Tech golf team on Sunday.

But even though the Yellow Jackets were eliminated in the semifinals of the NCAA Men's Championships, they established a good foundation for next year.

Tech was eliminated by Alabama 3-0-2 at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course, leaving coach Bruce Heppler's team one win shy of reaching the final round. Alabama will meet unheralded Illinois, which upset No. 1 seed Cal, in the final today.

"This will be tough to swallow for a little while," Georgia Tech's Seth Reeves, a Peachtree Ridge graduate said. "It's cool to be part of this team. Next year could be our year to be like Cal. I think we could be that good."

Tech entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed and qualified second in the stroke-play portion of the event. The Yellow Jackets beat UNLV 3-2 on Friday, but never got any traction against Alabama, which will make its second straight appearance in the final match.

Tech's Shun Yat Hak was two-up after seven holes before Alabama's Trey Mullinax reversed the momentum and wound up with a 4 and 3 win. Tech's Ollie Schniederjans lost a 3 and 2 decision to Alabama's Cory Whitsett, the nation's No. 4-ranked player. Reeves lost 3 and 1 to Justin Thomas, who is ranked No. 8.

Two other matches finished all square. Tech's Anders Albertson tied third-ranked Bobby Wyatt, when Wyatt bogeyed the final hole. The players were in the fairway on their first extra hole when the match was stopped. Tech's Bo Andrews and Scott Strohmeyer were on the 18th green when their match was stopped. Both incomplete matches are counted as all square.

Reeves lost two of the first four holes to Thomas to get behind early. He trailed by as many as three holes before trying to mount a comeback. A birdie at No. 14 on a 60-plus foot putt trimmed the lead and he nearly chipped in on the 15th hole. The match ended when he bogeyed the 17th hole after aggressively charging a birdie putt and failing to make the comebacker.

"I missed some opportunities," Reeves said. "It could have changed the momentum if I had taken advantage of the chances I had."

Reeves, a redshirt junior, will lead a solid group of returning players. Albertson and Schiederjans are both sophomores, Bo Andrews and Richard Werenski (who didn't make the team for the NCAAs) are both juniors, and Hak is a freshman.

Reeves won his quarterfinal match against UNLV's Carl Johnson 4 and 3 on Friday. His best finish this season was a tie for second at the Golfweek Preview Invitational in the fall. He is expected to be a foundational member of next year's team.

"Overall the week was very positive," said Reeves, a junior. "It was good to get here. This is the first time we've gotten to the semfinals so it shows the program is getting better."