#TGW: Not Blown Away

April 14, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

Crazy as it might seem, Ollie Schniederjans and his Georgia Tech teammates had a pretty good idea that weather would be an issue last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and when the wind cranked up – way up – he practically welcomed the blow.

The Yellow Jackets all seemed too, really, as they shot a two-over par 286 Sunday on Ohio State’s 7,455-yard Scarlet course that was 10 strokes better than a round offered by any other team. No wonder No. 5 Tech won the Robert Kepler Invitational by 18 strokes with a six-over par, three-round total of 858.

And Schniederjans, all he did was a four-under par 67 to tie Ohio State’s Frederik Hammer to medalist honors at three-under par 210. That 67 was four shots better than anyone else in the 81-man field, so, work was done.

The win was the fourth of the season for the junior from Powder Springs, and he was mostly happy about the way it happened.

Head coach Bruce Heppler scheduled the Jackets into the Kepler not only to get a taste of golf in the Midwest because Tech may end up in an NCAA regional in Chicago, and with the hope of finding windy conditions like those that may crop in Chicago and at Prairie Dunes, Kansas, next month in the NCAAs.

Missions accomplished.

As the winds gusted well past 25 mph Sunday, Schneiderjans pulled many a trick out of his bag – which he had to lay down to keep it from being blown over.

“It was as windy as I’ve ever played, and I’ve played in Hawai’i and Australia,” he said. “It makes an extremely big difference in so many ways . . . Before the tournament I just knew that I had to play normal and I’d win.

“The wind favors me, and it’s a long course, which favors me. I’ve built my game to where anything outside normal favors me.”

If the conditions were complementary to Schneiderjans, the Jackets were similarly yin-and-yang among each other.

Senior Seth Reeves finished alone in third place, four strokes behind the co-champions, and seniors Bo Andrews and Richard Werenski and junior Anders Albertson pitched in as well.

Werenski’s scores of 75 and 76 in the first and second rounds, which were both played Saturday, did not count toward the team score. But his Sunday score of 71 sure did.

That’s because after Andrews went 70-71 on Saturday, he scuffled on Sunday to a 78 to tied for 14th at 219.

Reeves (70-72-72) and Albertson (71-75-76) counted in all three rounds.

The Jackets filled in for each other as necessary to blow away UAB (876), Liberty (877), UNLV (879) and Ohio State (282) by 18, 19, 21 and 24 strokes.

For comparison sake, UNLV won the Southern Highlands Collegiate March 7-9 in Las Vegas, and beat 12th-place Tech by 31 strokes.

That was their course, and anything but the Jackets’ course.

Scarlet was neutral, but Tech romped in a swing of 52 strokes between the Jackets and the Rebels (whom Tech eliminated in the national match play quarterfinals last spring).

With wins in consecutive tournaments, including the Valspar a few weeks ago, the wind is at the Jackets’ backs. They’ve won four tournaments this school year, the most since Tech won seven in 2001-’02.

“I think we were expected to dominate,” Schneiderjans said. “When we went out and won by 18, we ham-and-egged it pretty good. When Bo plays well, Richy doesn’t, and when Bo doesn’t, Richy does so it kind of cancels out.”

Heppler, of course, would like to see everybody play well.

The Jackets Saturday will play locally in the first Capital City Club Match Play Championship with Auburn, Georgia and Florida State – the last stop before the postseason. The ACCs will be the following weekend in New London, N.C.

Should there be windy conditions, Tech is better prepared.

Schneiderjans said there are tricks required.

“You not only have to be able to judge the wind, whether it’s into the wind, down wind, left-to-right or right-to-left, but play shots differently,” he said. “If it’s into the wind, you’ve got to hit it lower and use more club.

“If I have 150 yards, and its dead into the wind I’ll play more club, choke up on it, swing softer to take spin off of it and put it back in my stance for my set up. The harder you hit it, the more spin you put on it. I’ll play more club so I don’t have to hit it as hard. It’s the opposite down wind. You want to keep spin on the ball.”

Schniederjans sees room for improvement. He did not master all at Ohio State.

He played holes 14, 15 and 16 in five-over par in the second round Saturday. He went eight under for the other 51 holes of the tournament.

“It was at the end of the second round – I made a bogey and back-to-back doubles. I caught a really bad break on 14 and 15, and I let it get me on 16,” Ollie said. “What I’m really disappointed in is 16. I had a little bit of bad luck (on 14 and 15). On 16, it was just me not being in the right frame of mind.

“Definitely, I threw away two shots. [Coach Heppler] said, `How can you let that happen to you? You’re better than that.’ I’m like, Yeah, I know. We’re human and it’s a 36-hole day, but I’ll learn from it. Coach wanted to make sure I recognized that.”

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