Posted: 11:37 pm Monday, May 26th, 2014
By Ken Sugiura
HUTCHINSON, Kansas – Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schniederjans came up just short in his attempt to win the NCAA individual championship Monday at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
After finishing regulation in a tie with Stanford’s Cameron Wilson with a three-round score of 6-under par 204, the junior from Powder Springs ultimately fell in the third hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“Eventually, one of us was going to birdie, and he had a nice wedge shot and made a nice putt,” Schniederjans said of Wilson.
Schniederjans was attempting to become Tech’s fourth NCAA individual champion, following Watts Gunn in 1927, Charlie Yates in 1934 and Troy Matteson in 2002. Going into play on Monday, Schniederjans was in a five-way tie for third at 4-under, two shots behind Wilson and a shot behind Wilson’s teammate Patrick Rodgers.
Schniederjans reached 6-under with birdies on the third and fourth holes before giving the strokes back with a double bogey at No. 5. He made the turn at even par and then played the back nine in 2-under. He rolled in a birdie putt at the par-5 17th to tie Wilson at 6 under, celebrating with a barely noticeable fist pump. He then had to wait out Wilson, who likewise birdied No. 17 before giving the stroke back on the final hole.
It was a fitting finale to decide the individual title. Wilson is ranked No. 4 in the country by Golfstat and has won or shared two titles this season. Schniederjans is No. 2 and has won a school-record five titles this season.
Both players parred the first two holes. Schniederjans had a chance to win on the second playoff hole on No. 10 but misread it and left it short. He found trouble on the next hole, the 17th, when he drove into thick prairie grass on the left side.
“I just swung as hard as I could with an 8-iron and hoped it went out normal,” Schniederjans said. “It came out nice. I was very happy.”
Both he and Wilson reached the green in three strokes, but Wilson was well inside of Schniederjans. After Schniederjans missed, Wilson rolled in his birdie.
Schniederjans is the third Tech player to finish runner-up at the NCAA championships, following Bill McDonald in 1988 and David Duval in 1991 and 1993.