Sept. 9, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
– Once Ollie Schniederjans righted himself Sunday, he wasted no time re-declaring his squatter’s rights after coming out of his squat.
Read on to see if this makes sense.
Sure, he fumbled around in the middle of the third around, but after consecutive bogeys on holes No. 8, 9 and 10, Georgia Tech’s senior All-American sewed up victory in the Carpet Capital Collegiate near Dalton by shooting five-under par over the final seven holes at the Farm.
Simply put, that was the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur taking charge to beat the No. 2-ranked amateur, Alabama’s Robby Shelton, by two strokes as the Yellow Jackets finished second, by a stroke, to South Carolina in their season opener.
“Excellent finish, one of the best I’ve ever had,” Ollie said after a four-under 68 left him with a three-round total of 10-under par 206 to defend the Carpet Capital title he won as a junior. “I’m ecstatic about that.”
Schneiderjans has made a habit of squatting atop tournaments.
He’s won six at Tech, tying Troy Matteson for third-most titles in program history. Matt Kuchar won seven times for the Jackets, and David Duval and Bryce Molder each captured eight.
In the what-have-you-done-lately category, Ollie has topped them all.
In his past six collegiate events, dating to last spring, he has won, won, won, finished second (NCAA regional), tied for first (NCAAs) and won.
His record in that stretch is 514-2 and one of those losses came when he tied Stanford’s Cameron Wilson for first in NCAA stroke play before falling in a playoff.
He’s like a dragon sitting atop all the gold, flicking away the measly arrows of others as if they’re tiny toothpicks in a silly game.
Eh, don’t fall for all of these broad brush strokes.
Within the details it can be seen that Ollie struggled significantly enough in the middle of his final round – and at the end of his first on Friday – to remind that this is a man, not a machine.
He opened with an even-par 72 Friday, which wasn’t so bad except by Ollie’s standards. He bogeyed three of his last four holes after a weather delay, and there was no happiness. It didn’t help anybody’s mindset that several Jackets struggled, and they stood in ninth place after the very long day.
“[A weather delay] changes the momentum. It’s a different feeling, it just changes the day,” he said. “Sometimes, it changes things in a good way, sometimes where you aren’t able to judge the same way.
“I mis-judged the greens when I got back out there, and I had a bad lie. Hit two great shots on 18, and then mis-judged. If the rain delay didn’t happen, I’m probably four shots better.”
The Farm was helpless before Schniederjans Saturday, when his first collegiate ace – a 5-iron on the 240-yard, par-3 eighth – stood as the centerpiece of his best-ever round for the Jackets – a 64.
“I was [peeved] about the first day, and I took it out on the course after that,” Ollie said. “[The hole-in-one] landed just over the slope and took the break, and rolled in like a putt. Everyone was very celebratory, and I just was kind of shock. I kinda raised my hands.”
Tech pulled into the lead Saturday, and played well again Sunday although not as well as South Carolina.
The Gamecocks shot 12-under-par 276 to Tech’s 280 and South Carolina won the tournament 848-849 over Georgia Tech.
Ollie rolled through much of his front half before losing his way in the middle of the round, and bogeying Nos. 8, 9 and 10.
Who was that guy?
“I was very on the first seven holes and then a flipped switched and all of a suddenly, I got off for about an hour,” he said. “Sometimes, when I’m competing I’m so focused on the course that I lose my swing thoughts.
“For about an hour, I was just going through the motions, and I lost one of my swing thoughts.”
Ah, yes, the swing thoughts.
A couple swings on Nos. 10 and 11 left Ollie feeling odd so he took inventory and realized the swing thought that had escaped him and returning to the business of … not squatting.
“The way it felt made trigger one of my swing thoughts, and I had to re-focus on it,” he recalled. “I was aware, and made the fix.”
End the mystery. What was the missing swing thought?
“Keep my knees tall and away from the ball coming down,” Schniederjans said. “I was getting too squatty. Keep my knees tall and back.”
There was more than coming out of that squat that led to the finishing flurry as Ollie closed eagle-birdie-par-birdie-par-par-birdie.
Schniederjans likes where he is – at the top. Pressure? Puh-lease!
“It’s more comfortable to me to be No. 1. I feel that’s where I belong,” he said of the world ranking attained in June. “I feel in my element. I’ve visualized myself to be in this position. I like the expectations, and I like everything about playing and being the guy everyone is watching.
“That’s why I play. I don’t want anyone to be doing better than me, so I might as well be the guy doing the best, and I try to act that way and play that way. It makes me hungry to keep getting better. Everything I do now is being watched, and I don’t waste any time. I’m not messing around at all.”
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