Johns Creek, Ga. – Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans needed an extra hole, but his short birdie putt on the first sudden death hole at No. 18 was a winner and gave him the championship of the 99th Georgia Amateur Championship Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
In his first tournament competition since the college golf season came to an abrupt halt in March, Schniederjans took home a championship that was first won by the legendary Bobby Jones in 1916, and did it at the club Jones founded. Schniederjans became the first Georgia Tech player to win the state amateur title since Bunky Henry put his name on the trophy in 1964, and is the 10th Yellow Jacket to win the title. The list of Jackets to win the championship includes most of the legendary amateur player of the past: Watts Gunn, Charlie Yates, Perry Adair, Tommy Barnes, Dan Yates, Jr., Billy “Dynamite” Goodloe, Charlie Harrison, as well as Henry and Jones.
It also was the third victory for a Yellow Jacket in amateur competition in the last eight days, following Tyler Strafaci’s triumphs at the North & South Amateur July 4 and the Palmetto Amateur Saturday.
“Any tournament you play you want to win,” said Schniederjans, “but this will be a really cool memory to win the Georgia State Amateur here at the Atlanta Athletic Club.”
Schniederjans and Brett Barron, a Suwanee, Ga., native who plays collegiately at Georgia Southern, finished 72 holes at even-par 213. Barron rolled home a 10-foot birdie putt at the last to knot things up after Schniederjans had held a slim lead for most of the back nine, sending the players went back to the 18thtee to start the playoff. After making par at the par-5 18th hole all three rounds in regulation, Schniederjans took an aggressive approach this time, hitting a 3-wood off the tee and reaching the green in two from 225 yards out with a 4-iron. Barron put his tee shot in a fairway bunker, laid up and placed his approach to about 12 feet, needing to make that to force another hole.
Schniederjans’ eagle attempt from 40 feet settled within two feet, and after Barron missed his birdie attempt, the Yellow Jacket made his birdie to seal the championship.
“Where the tee was on 18 today, it was like total match play (for the playoff), so I just decided to be aggressive,” said Schniederjans. “I hit 3-wood off the tee. On the second shot, I had some mud on the left side (of the ball), so I just tried to play a little cut with a 4-iron. (Barron) had gotten up and down on the last hole, so I figured I needed to two-putt. It was a tough two-putt, I had to hit a delicate putt down there (on the eagle attempt).”
He shot 72-70 in the first two days and stood even par entering Sunday’s final round, three shots behind Barron and Deven Patel of Johns Creek. Schniederjans said he tried to create birdie opportunities for himself during the final round, but settled for pars in 16 of the 18 holes. The Alpharetta resident made his only bogey at the par-4 11th, then birdied the par-5 12th for a share of the lead, which he never relinquished. He led by as many as two, but Barron birdied 16 and 18 to force the playoff.
“I was trying to make some birdies,” said Schniederjans. “I wasn’t hitting bad shots, but out here, every putt you have outside of 10 feet is (playing) defense. So you have to stuff it, and it’s tough to stuff it when the pins are where they were. I wasn’t thinking it was a very good, but it ended being a good score. I made some clutch par putts that I had to make.”
Schniederjans, who graduated from Tech in May, holds the No. 82 position in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and No. 83 in the Scratch Players Amateur Ranking. Collegiatetely, he has made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team three times (team was not chosen in 2020) and was named a third-team All-American in 2019 by both the Golf Coaches Association of America and Golfweek magazine. A three-time tournament champion in his collegiate career, Schniederjans finished last spring ranked No. 62 among college players in the Golfweek/Sagarin Index and No. 102 in Golfstat.
Meanwhile, his Tech teammate, sophomore Andy Mao, tied for 32nd in the championship after posting rounds of 74-75-76.