The rising Georgia Tech sophomore and former Etowah standout went for the pin on his second shot at the par-4 No. 16, but he found the water instead. That resulted in a triple-bogey 7 and a big drop down the leaderboard in Wednesday’s first round of the Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club.
Albertson’s uneasy play didn’t end there after he bogeyed the par-3 17th and finished with a 4-over 76 over the 6,860-yard course. He is tied for 58th among 87 golfers and sits 10 shots behind MJ Maguire.
Maguire, a North Florida golfer who made it out of Monday’s Dogwood qualifier, is atop the leaderboard with a 66.
Thirteen others were under par, including 67s from Albertson’s Georgia Tech teammate, Ollie Schniederjans, and former Yellow Jacket Carlton Forrester.
Albertson found himself at 2 over through his first eight holes before birdies at the par-5 ninth and 14th holes moved him back to even. A solid par at No. 15 kept him among the top 20, but he failed to finish strong down the stretch, giving him a lot of ground to make up before Friday’s final cut after 54 holes of play.
“The pins were harder (Wednesday) than they usually are,” said Albertson, who has played the course several times and is making his third appearance in the Dogwood. “They pretty much put them right on the false fronts, so I really couldn’t get comfortable, or couldn’t really get too aggressive. I was even-par going into 16. I hit a good tee shot and hit a false front on my second shot. The bank is shaved, so it goes in the water, and I end up making a 7.
“I was right in there at even-par until those last three holes. I had a couple of birdie holes coming up and was on 16 and I got too cute with a tight lie in the fairway. I didn’t have any room to work with on the shaved bank. I just needed to be a little more conservative and not go right at it. That cost me a lot, so I have a lot of work to do right now.”
Albertson compounded the issue driving his tee shot into a bunker on No. 17. He also lipped out for birdie on No. 18 to par his final hole.
“Not a good finish,” Albertson said. “And, at 4 over, I can’t be conservative (today) when the leaders are 3 under or something. I have a lot of ground to make up over the next couple of days and see if I can convert on more opportunities and see if I can get some putts to go in.”
Albertson’s strategy for today involves taking advantage of what the course gives him.
“I have to take better advantage of the par 5s,” he said. “I only birdied two of the four, and you have to birdie those out here. Hopefully, the pins will be a little more accessible and I’ll be able to capitalize. I also have to think about where the slopes are on the greens and use those to my advantage and get the ball closer to the hole.”
Albertson will tee off from No. 10 today at 8:54 a.m. Given his knowledge of the course, he’s not surprised by his shaky start because other knowledgeable golfers found themselves in the same position.
“The course is gettable, but it’s not going to give it to you,” Albertson said. “Anybody can shoot anything, so you’re never out of it on this course. You can always go out there, and, if you play really well, the course is fair and you’ll shoot really low.
“But, with all of these changes they’ve made with the banks and everything and the pin locations, you can shoot over par pretty easily. That doesn’t really matter. I’m just ready to go play well over the next couple of days.”
William Mitchell, a member of Canton’s BridgeMill Athletic Club, shot 82 and is near the bottom of the leaderboard.