Enters U.S. Amateur after strong recent showings
Ollie Schniederjans’ excellent summer adventure is just about to come to an end, but the Georgia Tech senior from Powder Springs has one more very important scene to play before heading back to school.
After making a big splash in his first leap into the professional golf pool and two weeks of quality golf in England, Schniederjans is back home in the Atlanta area with one more event left on his summer schedule.
Schniederjans comes into the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club as the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, and will be looking for a strong showing in an event that has not been particularly kind to prominent amateur golfers from Georgia in recent years.
After qualifying for the U.S. Amateur the past two years, losing his opening match in 2012 in Colorado and just missing match play last year in Boston, Schniederjans is looking for better results a little closer to home.
“I’m very excited,” Schniederjans said about the prospects of playing the top event in amateur golf in his home town.
“I’d like to contend and win some matches, but first I’ve got to make it to match play, and that’s not a given. You’ve got to play well. Hopefully, I’ll make a really, really long run in match play. I feel good about my chances.”
As the No. 1-ranked player competing in his home town in the biggest event in amateur golf, much of the attention will be focused on the Georgia Tech senior.
“It’s nothing I haven’t handled before,” he says, pointing out that the external pressure is no greater “than the pressure I put on myself.”
Schniederjans’ summer began with a tie for fifth in a Web.com Tour tournament in Wichita in his first ever start against tour players. He then headed to England to compete in the Palmer Cup, an event matching top college players from the U.S. against a team from Europe.
His overseas stay was extended when he was offered a sponsor’s invitation to play the European Tour Scottish Open against some of the top players in the game, and he acquitted himself well, making the cut and finishing in the middle of the pack, tying for 41st with four scores between 70 and 72. .
Schniederjans said his summer of playing abroad and against professionals “has been a great experience. I learned a lot just from being around those guys. The Scottish Open was very special, playing links golf against those names.
“I played pretty well in each of them. I had one bad nine in the Web.com event, but I got back in contention.”
Schniederjans shot 64 in his first tournament round in a pro event, added a 65 two days later and closed with a final round 67 to finish just five shots behind the winner.
“That was pretty cool,” Schniederjans said of his opening 64, with his second round comeback after shooting 4-over on his first nine another highlight.
That turned out to be his only tournament appearance in the U.S. after he finished as runner-up in the individual competition of the NCAA Championship, where he lost in a playoff in Hutchinson, Kan. Schniederjans and his Georgia Tech teammates were one of eight teams to qualify for match play, but the Yellow Jackets lost in the quarterfinals.
After playing in the Web.com Tour event, Schniederjans flew to England for the Palmer Cup. He was the top American player in a losing effort, posting a 3-1 record including victories in both his singles matches.
“I went straight from Wichita to England, and that was a tough transition. I played OK in the Palmer Cup, pretty good in singles. And I got some time to re-group and rest before the Scottish Open.
“I played pretty good there, but I didn’t score that good. To make the cut and play all four rounds was great. It was a great experience.”
After a busy and eventful summer, Schniederjans will be among the tournament favorites, even though he has bypassed the usual routine of playing in top amateur tournaments in the country in preparation for the U.S. Amateur.
Schniederjans has been a national caliber player since his days as a junior, and was fourth in the junior rankings before enrolling at Georgia Tech.
After a successful freshman season at Tech, he began to emerge as a major player as a sophomore. He earned third team All-America status and helped lead the Yellow Jackets into the match play portion of the NCAA Championship, where they lost in the semifinals at North Fulton’s Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
During his junior season, Schniederjans won three tournaments outright, including the U.S. Collegiate Championship at Golf Club of Georgia, and shared first place twice. His five wins broke the Georgia Tech record held by PGA Tour players David Duval, Stewart Cink and Troy Matteson.
Schniederjans has a history of playing well in Atlanta area tournaments, adding a runner-up finish in the 2013 Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club (he was sixth the year before) to his college play at Golf Club of Georgia and the Crabapple course. He was the medalist in a 2012 U.S. Amateur qualifier at Piedmont Driving Club,
After returning home from England, Schniederjans did what most people do during the summer, and was on vacation in California a few weeks before the U.S. Amateur, participating in a media interview session at Atlanta Athletic Club on the phone from the West Coast.
“I’ve been playing non-stop since January and took a break after the Scottish Open,” Schniederjans said.
His break is about to end in a big way.