The last day of Georgia Tech All-American Ollie Schniederjans’ collegiate career – at the NCAA championships in Bradenton, Fla., earlier this summer – was a bit of a shambles. With his team needing to play its way into the match-play portion of the championship, Schniederjans shot one of the worst rounds of his career, a six-over-par 78 that helped keep the Yellow Jackets out of match play by three strokes.
“It couldn’t be more of a disaster, really,” he said following his round.
It stands as an almost unreal contrast to his final day as an amateur, Monday. In the oldest golf tournament in the world, playing on arguably the most revered course in the world, Schniederjans showed perhaps the best form of his career and bested most of the best players in the world, finishing in a tie for 12th at the Open Championship at St. Andrews at 9-under 279.
He closed with a 5-under 67 in Monday’s fourth round, one stroke more than the best round of the day.
“Amazing final day as an amateur,” he told PGATOUR.com. “I couldn’t ask for anything more special, … watching my name go up on the leaderboard on Sunday. That’s incredible. Extremely special day, and I’m ready to go.”
It followed a tie for 42nd at the U.S. Open. In making the cuts at the U.S. Open and at St. Andrews – spots he earned by finishing last summer as the top-ranked amateur in the world – he achieved a double that only two men had done since 1960 – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. There is worse company in the sport.
“I really wanted these experiences in two majors, and I’m absolutely thrilled that I decided to (remain amateur),” he said. “I think it’s developed my game. I think it’s developed me.”
It’s a sweet final note for Schniederjans, who could have turned professional after a gangbusters junior season, but chose to return for a variety of reasons, including his goal of graduation, his desire to spend another year on campus with his brother Ben (a pitcher on Tech’s baseball team) and the experience of playing as a senior with a bull’s-eye on his back.
It was successful in many ways, including a second first-team All-America selection. But it did not turn out to be the year that Schniederjans anticipated – by his standards, his game faltered as he tried to balance school, golf and the impending launch of his professional career – including the final college tournament at the Concession Golf Club. But two unforgettable experiences at two of the most competitive and challenging tournaments in the world would seem to balance it out a bit.
There’s little reason to believe he’s not ready to turn professional, which he will do with his entry at the Canadian Open this week.
“My game is in the best place it’s been ever,” Schniederjans said.
Schniederjans now is in a race to earn a PGA Tour card for 2016. He has two clear options, according to the linked article. One, by earning the same number of FedEx Cup points of the No. 125 player on the tour. Right now, rather coincidentally, that’s Tech great Stewart Cink, with 389 points.
To get to that spot, Cink has made 13 cuts out of 19 events entered and earned $441,255. His two best finishes this season are two ties for 20th place, including at St. Andrews. But Schniederjans only has four events to do this, as the tour’s regular season ends at that point with the Wyndham Championship Aug. 20-23.
He could also earn a tour card via the Web.com Tour finals, a four-event series in which 50 cards are awarded to the field of around 150, although half of the cards are given to the top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour, so he’s really going for one of 25 cards. He can claim a spot in the finals by earning as many points as the No. 200 spot in the FedEx Cup by season’s end.
At the risk of getting too far into the weeds – I fear it may be too late – the winners in the next two events earn 500 points, 300 in the third and 500 in the last. If he can finish 10th in a 500-point event, he’d earn 75 points. A 20th-place finish would be worth 51 points. So even if he finished 10th in each of his four events, which would be remarkable, he’d earn 265 points, not nearly enough to get into the top 125.
(If you’re wondering, he likely can’t get into the two biggest remaining tour events, the Bridgestone and the PGA Championship, unless he were to win a tournament, in which case he’d automatically earn his tour card.)
Congratulations if you understood this. Basically, he’s got to play unfathomably well to make the top 125, and still very well to get a spot in the Web.com Tour finals, where he’d have to play well again to have a shot at a tour card in that event. Failing that, he’ll likely have to earn a Web.com Tour card.
Draftee coming to Tech
The Tech baseball team may have got its biggest win of the calendar year this past week. Signee Jonathan Hughes, a pitcher from Flowery Branch High, decided to pass up a signing bonus worth about $900,000 to attend Tech. Hughes was drafted with the 68th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles; he’s the second-highest draftee to spurn professional baseball for college.
Coach Danny Hall’s starting rotation needs help – the Jackets had only one consistent starter last season in Brandon Gold – and Hughes would appear to have the potential to step in. Hall is getting more help besides Hughes. After missing the NCAA tournament for just the third time in Hall’s 22-year tenure, the Jackets came out significantly ahead in the draft.
All-ACC third baseman Matt Gonzalez went undrafted, keeping him at Tech for his senior season. Of the five signees drafted, only catcher Tyler Stephenson, picked 11th overall by Cincinnati, has signed. Catcher Joey Bart, shortstop Carter Hall (Danny Hall’s son), pitcher Tristin English and Hughes will come to Tech.
English, from Pike County High, was ranked the No. 146 prospect by Baseball America. Bart, from Buford, was No. 183.
Search for Jones’ successor
With the departure of Roddy Jones for the ACC Network to be its sideline reporter, Tech will need to find a replacement for Jones to serve as analyst on the Tech radio broadcasts. Sean Bedford, the two-time All-ACC center who served as the sideline reporter last season and also was involved in the pregame show, will be a strong candidate.
He is a lot of things that Jones is – a former Tech football player who is intelligent, communicates well, insightful into the game, has a good sense of humor and is passionate about the school and team. Bobinski said last week that he would meet with Brandon Gaudin this week to begin the process of making the hire.
If Bedford is hired, the next opening will be for his old sideline job.
Ticket sales moving
Bobinski also said that he was confident the department would meet its season-ticket goal for football, 22,500. The total was 22,000 about a month ago, and he expected another sales rush as the season approaches.
“I feel really good about our sales for this year,” he said.
Tickets for Chick-fil-A
If you read the posted story about the Tech-Tennessee Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game becoming official, I added a couple details Monday afternoon after speaking with Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan that you may have missed.
Tech will have a 30,000-ticket allotment for the game in the new Falcons stadium, which has a seating capacity of 71,000. Tennessee’s allotment is 25,000. Stokan also said that, in conjunction with the game, Tech coaching great Bobby Dodd will be honored. Dodd played at Tennessee before going to Tech to coach, and he is one of only three people to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. (Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt are the two others. Steve Spurrier will join them eventually. Interestingly, Dodd and Spurrier both grew up in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Wyatt also played and coached at Tennessee. Sadly, Stagg has no ties to Tennessee that I’m aware of.)
Charitable ticket giveaway
Tech has established a program to give underprivileged children free tickets to the Tulane game Sept. 12. The school and its corporate sponsors will donate more than 2,000 tickets to non-profits that focus their efforts on benefiting underprivileged children 18 and under. Applications can be made here.
Due to demand, youth sports organizations and schools are not eligible to apply. Fans seeking to purchase additional tickets to donate ($12 each) can do so here.
Tech had 173 athletes named to the ACC Honor roll. To qualify, athletes had to play a varsity sport and earn a 3.0 GPA for the 2014-15 academic year. Tech golfers Anders Albertson and Ollie Schniederjans and runner Alec Clifford both earned the distinction for the fifth time.
Four-time honorees: Samantha Becker (track and field), Kate Brandus (swimming), Andrew Chetcuti (swimming), Drew Czuchry (golf), Hayley Drosky (track and field), Nat Estes (track and field), Courtney Felinski (volleyball), Karly Fullem (softball), Morgan Jackson (track and field), Isaiah Johnson (football), Andrew Kosic (swimming), Kelsey Maloney (swimming), Eduardo Segura (tennis) and Nico van Dujin (swimming).