After a successful but winless rookie season in 2016-17, Atlanta area resident and recent Georgia Tech star Ollie Schniederjans was hoping to have an even better sophomore season on the PGA Tour this year along with capturing a frequently difficult to attain first victory.
Schniederjans came close several times during his rookie year, contending late in the final round at both Sea Island GC and Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island before making a stirring run at his first triumph in Greensboro, narrowly losing in a head-to-head shootout in the final round to Henrik Stenson.
Just as he did as a rookie, Schniederjans enjoyed several profitable weeks early in 2018 on the West Coast swing, finishing just three shots behind the winner in both Hawaii and Phoenix, tying for third in the latter.
However, since his close call in Phoenix, where he closed with a 65, Schniederjans has been stuck in something of a rut. His play over the past three months has been neither excellent nor sub-standard, falling somewhere in between.
After three missed cuts in a 5-tournament stretch with his strong showings in Hawaii (T7) and Phoenix (T3) sandwiched in between, Schniederjans made his next six cuts in succession coming into this week’s Players.
But in none of those six starts did he finish higher than 34th, that coming in his most recent appearance in Charlotte last week.
During an off week just prior to the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, Schniederjans made a local appearance at Country Club of the South to help promote an Atlanta Junior Golf Association tournament that has taken on his name.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit tee to green,” Schniederjans said of his recent stretch of respectable but unexceptional play. Considering the track record he has already established at this young stage of his career, Schniederjans simply views his recent play as one of those things that even the best players in the game occasionally have to deal with.
“Just when you think you have things figured out, you get smacked in the face,” he noted. “I’m just going to keep working at it.”
As he did in his rookie season, Schniederjans still misses fairways at a high rate, but that hasn’t prevented him from ranking among the top 40 on the tour in birdie percentage as both a rookie and sophomore. But his greens in regulation numbers have dropped considerably this season, something he has helped compensate for with significant improvement in his putting stats.
Whether he captures his first PGA Tour title or not this season, 2018 will feature several firsts for Schniederjans. He is making his first start in the Players this week and expects to make his first appearance as a professional in one of golf’s four majors later this summer.
Schniederjans is not yet qualified for any of three upcoming majors, but will look to qualify for both the U.S. and British Opens and is currently in position to make the field for the PGA Championship, thanks to his standing on a money list as well as his world ranking – 87 at the start of this week.
It’s been less than three years since Schniederjans, who grew up in the Cobb County community of Powder Springs and now lives in Alpharetta, turned pro following outstanding careers as a junior and during his four years at Georgia Tech. He was ACC Player of the Year as both a junior and senior and was first team All-America each seasos, winning six tournaments while at Tech along with 17 top-5 finishes.
At one point, Schniederjans was ranked as the No. 1 amateur in the world, and had some impressive achievements competing against the pros while still an amateur. In his first start against the pros, he shot 64 in the first round of a Web.com event in Wichita in 2014 and went on to tie for fifth in the tournament. Shortly after that, he made the cut in one of the top events on the European Tour before returning to amateur golf in the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he suffered a tough third round defeat to the tournament’s eventual champion.
Schniederjans closed out his amateur career in the summer of 2015 by making the cut in the U.S. Open and following with a tie for 12th in the British Open after making an early run up the leader board in the final round.
The next week, Schniederjans debuted as a pro in memorable fashion, tying for 22nd in the Canadian open, followed by a tie for 15th the next week in the PGA Tour stop in the Washington, D.C., area.
Schniederjans nearly played his way onto the 2015-16 PGA Tour, but missed out by the narrowest of margins after missing the cut in Greensboro when fellow Georgia Tech standout Roberto Castro birdied his final hole of the second round to lower the cut line by a shot.
As a result, Schniederjans spent 2016 on the Web.com Tour, and got some valuable experience while also enjoying a successful first full season as a tour pro. He finished sixth on the money list highlighted by a playoff victory in Wichita and four other finishes of seventh or better, including a playoff loss in Cartagena, Colombia.
It didn’t take Schniederjans long to make his mark as a PGA Tour member. After missing the cut in his first three starts as a rookie, he tied for sixth in his fourth event at Sea Island, shooting four rounds of 68 or better to finish just three behind the winner. He collected top 10s in two high-profile events on the West Coast (San Diego and Los Angeles) before tying for third at Hilton head, leading early on the back nine before ending up two in back of the winner.
Schniederjans closed out the regular season with his best tournament thus far as a pro, shooting 21-under in Greensboro to finish one behind Stenson.
“That was a great opportunity, and I definitely played good enough to win the tournament,” Schniederjans said of his close call in Greensboro, where he shot 64 in the final round and traded birdies with Stenson down the stretch.
He had experienced the pressure of being in contention late in the final round of Hilton Head, and did not play like a rookie attempting to secure his first PGA Tour victory in Greensboro.
“You have to do something special to get that first win and close it out,” Schniederjans observed, and he did all he could to make that happen, but was denied by one of the game’s best players.
That boosted him to 39th in the final FedExCup regular season standings, putting him in position for a top-30 finish and a spot in the Tour Championship and the 20018 majors. But apart from one round, Schniederjans did not play his best in the first three Playoffs events and fell to 60th in the final standings for the 2016-17 season.
After a short break, Schniederjans started the 2017-18 season with three straight top-25 showings in the season opener in California and two events in Asia. He opened 2018 with two top 10s and two missed cuts on the West Coast, finishing just three shots back in Phoenix in a tie for third after a final round 65.
In the three months since, Schniederjans has not shot lower than 68, but has played well enough to make his last six cuts as he continues to pursue his primary goal.
“I’m going to keep working at it and I’m zoned in on my first win. I’m not worried about when it is.”