Golf Notebook: Petefish First to Qualify for U.S. Amateur

July 10, 2017

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech senior Chris Petefish became the first Yellow Jacket golfer to qualify for the U.S. Amateur later this summer by winning his sectional qualifying tournament last week in Salix., Pa. The 117th U.S. Amateur will take place Aug. 14-20 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

U.S. Amateur qualifying locations | U.S. Amateur qualifying results | Georgia Tech in 2017 amateur events 

With only one qualifying spot available in a 43-player field, the Danville, Calif., native shot 67-68 to win by three strokes at Windber Country Club. It will be his second U.S. Amateur, having qualified for the 2015 championship in Seaside, Calif. It continued an excellent spring and summer run of amateur performances for Petefish, who won the Azalea Invitational in the spring and has posted two other top-10 finishes. He also reached the semifinals of the North & South Amateur after tying for 18th place in stroke play.

“This is probably one of the hardest tournaments to qualify for,” Petefish told the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. “It means a lot. I’m really excited to go to California. I’m from there originally, Northern California. I know Riviera is a great course. I’m really looking forward to it.”

A total of 7,149 entries have been accepted for the U.S. Amateur. Sixty-four players are fully exempt into the championship and the remaining places in the 312-player field will be filled through qualifying at 100 sites across the country and in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico between July 3-25. Forty-five states will host qualifying, with host state California leading the way with 13 sites.

Two of those sites are in the Atlanta area. Tech Hall of Famer Carlton Forrester and rising senior Michael Pisciotta will attempt to qualify next Tuesday and Wednesday at Piedmont Driving Club, while rising sophomores Andy Ogletree and Luke Schniederjans will compete for spots at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.

James Clark tied for seventh place (141, -1) at Columbia Country Club in Blythewood, S.C., and did not qualify.

SCHNIEDERJANS COMES UP SHORT AT DOGWOOD

Luke Schniederjans picked up a couple of top-10 finishes in the last couple of weeks, tying for 10th place at the Northeast Amateur in Rumford, R.I., then finishing second by a scant one stroke at the Dogwood Invitational in Atlanta. The rising sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., shot 20-under-par 268, but his bogey on the 71st hole left him just shy.

A highlight was at No. 8, where his tee shot nearly landed in the hole on the par 3 and left him with a two-footer that put him into a tie for the lead. Schniederjans had a one-shot lead when he came to 17. He may have been over-pumped and hit the ball slightly over the green. He chipped to within 15 feet, but his par putt lipped out. He was unable to make the necessary birdie on the 18th hole and could only watch as Go played the final hole in mistake-free fashion.

“If you’d told me I’d shoot 6-under to start the round, I’d have been really happy,” he said afterward. “I just came up a little short.”

Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) tied for ninth place at 14-under-par 274.

CLARK A RUNNER-UP AT SOUTHEASTERN AMATEUR

James Clark went into the final round of the Southeastern Amateur with the lead, looking to win his hometown event for the second time. The rising senior from Columbus, Ga., had carded a pair of 63s sandwiched around a 69 in the first 54 holes, but faded to a 71 on the final day to finish four shots off the lead in second place.

Playing in front of his hometown crowd at a hometown course with which he is very familiar was a double-edged sword for Clark. While he knew the nuances of the course better than those from outside Columbus, the pressure was that much more to win in front of friends and family.

“It’s really special to be at home and play on my home course,” Clark told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “I grew up walking from my house to the gate at hole 7 to go practice. It’s crazy to see how time goes on, hitting shots when I was a kid and now totally differently. It’s really cool. It’s an advantage. I know what kind of shots to take longer than normal and shorter than normal.

“(Today,) I got a little tight. I was putting a little too much pressure on myself to get the win at home with the hometown crowd watching. It’s part of learning how to win. It’s all about confidence when you’re in those positions and learning how to do it.”

It has been his best finish of the summer, couple with a tie for 35th at the Dogwood Invitational and a tie for 40th at the Monroe Invitational.

MATCH PLAY ROUNDUP

Chris Petefish, rising sophomore Tyler Strafaci and incoming freshman Noah Norton all found success in match play events over the last two weeks.

Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) and Petefish both qualified for match play at the North & South Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C., finishing 12th and 18th, respectively, and were on a collision course to meet in the finals. But each of them came up one rung short, falling by identical 4 and 3 scores in their semifinal matches.

Norton (Chico, Calif.) did make the finals of the California Amateur at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. After squeaking into the 32-player match-play bracket by finishing in a logjam at 25th place, Norton breezed through three of his four matches leading into the 36-hole championship, where he built an early 5-hole lead. His opponent, San Diego State senior P.J. Samiere, rallied back to move ahead after the halfway point of the match. After a back-and-forth battle for most of the second 18, the two went to the iconic 18th hole of the Lake Course tied. Samiere birdied to capture the match and the championship.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 23rd year under head coach Bruce Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have won 16 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 28 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GT_Golf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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