JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – As the 2014 U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club approaches, Ollie Schniederjans finds himself squarely in the spotlight.
Schniederjans is a senior All-American at nearby Georgia Tech who has held the No. 1 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking since June 18. He moved up from No. 3 when the two top-ranked players – Patrick Rodgers and 2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick – turned professional after the U.S. Open.
In addition to his college ties, which Schniederjans shares with the Atlanta Athletic Club’s most illustrious member, five-time U.S. Amateur champion Bob Jones, Ollie lives in Powder Springs, Ga., approximately 40 miles from the host club.
The 114th U.S. Amateur will be conducted by the USGA from Aug. 11-17 and Schniederjans will be among 15 players from the state of Georgia who will compete for the Havemeyer Trophy.
I am very familiar with Georgia golf growing up in the Atlanta area, said the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. I’m going to have to be mentally ready for the whole week and the pressure that I put on myself, but it’s nothing I haven’t handled before. Things don’t get bigger than the U.S. Amateur in your hometown as the No. 1 ranked player.
Schniederjans enters his third consecutive U.S. Amateur confident that he is well-prepared. His post-college events include a Web.com professional event, as well as the Palmer Cup in the United Kingdom and the Scottish Open, where he made the cut and finished in a tie for 41st at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. All this coming off a college campaign in which he became the first Yellow Jacket player to win five tournaments in one year, besting the four wins by the trio of David Duval (1992-93), Stewart Cink (1994-95) and Troy Matteson (2001-02).
I did not play an amateur event until the Palmer Cup, said Schniederjans, who was the individual runner-up at the NCAA Championships to Stanford’s Cameron Wilson in May. It’s been a great experience playing a couple of pro events. I learned a lot at both events and being around those guys and competing against them. The Scottish Open was very special – playing links golf at an amazing place against those names. I am excited to play the U.S. Amateur after it.
Schniederjans, who plans to complete his Georgia Tech career and assess his situation before deciding whether to turn pro, is matter of fact about his summer performance, which included a tie for fifth at the Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kan.
I played pretty well in all of them, said the 21-year-old. I played well at the Web.com event and I had one bad nine holes but I got back into contention. In my first pro event to shoot 64 was really cool. And, to come back after a really bad nine holes in the second round and make the cut and get back into contention with a 65 on Saturday. I was pretty excited about that whole performance there.
At U.S. Amateur media day on July 29, Schniederjans addressed the crowd via phone from California, where he was taking a competitive break before the Amateur.
I have been playing non-stop from January until I just got back from the Scottish Open (in July), Schniederjans said. I am taking a break and vacationing out here in California with my girlfriend and relaxing and doing some workouts and going to the beach. I’ll get back in time to practice and be ready. It’s more important to be prepared mentally for the intensity and the grind than anything else.
Schniederjans, who said he has played Atlanta AC’s Highlands and Riverside courses a few times, is realistic about his chances.
I expect to contend and win some matches, said Schniederjans, who qualified for match play in the 2012 U.S. Amateur, losing in the first round, and failed to reach match play in 2013. First, I have to make it to match play; that’s the first challenge. It’s not a ‘gimme at all. I have to play well to get to match play. Hopefully, it’s a really long week with a lot of golf. I feel good about my chances of it being a long week, but we know how things can change. Nothing can be taken for granted.
U.S. AMATEUR NOTEBOOK
U.S. Amateur co-general chairman Glenn Cornell noted during the championship’s media day that Bob Jones was president of Atlanta AC, as was his father, Robert Purmedus Jones… Atlanta AC members Tommy Barnes and Charlie Harrison qualified for the U.S. Amateur 17 and 16 times, respectively….Atlanta AC is the only club to have members play in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur. In 1925 at Oakmont C.C. in Pennsylvania, Jones defeated Watts Gunn, 8 and 6...Jerry Pate, the 1974 U.S. Amateur champion and the winner of the 1976 U.S. Open at Atlanta AC, will be the players’ reception speaker…. Georgia Tech’s Seth Reeves of Duluth, Ga., who was a second-team All-American in 2014 and advanced to the Round of 32 at the 2013 U.S. Amateur, graduated with a business degree in 2014 and attended media day. His view of the U.S. Amateur: This is a special event. It is like the U.S. Open for us. The format is a grind and there is so much history. I have decided to wait to turn pro and that tells you how special this place and the U.S. Amateur are.…. Ben Kimball, the USGA’s director of the U.S. Amateur, said the Highlands Course will play to a par of 71 for the first time. The 18th hole will play as a par 5 to allow us to keep the risk-reward element in the hole.…. Kimball also said that during stroke play and match play, the USGA will use all of the multiple tees on the par-3 seventh hole. He noted that the Highlands Course has probably longest set of par 4s I have ever seen.
Pete Kowalski is the director of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.