Jan. 10, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Ollie Schniederjans has made changes to his golf game, and he’s going a long way to test them for the first time.
The Georgia Tech senior, who is the top-ranked amateur in the world, is traveling around that world to compete with professionals in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. His first flight left Friday, to London. After a night there, he and his mother will travel to Dubai, and then Abu Dhabi.
The tournament begins next Thursday.
It won’t be Schniederjans’ first time overseas; he’s played previously in Japan, Australia, Scotland, England and other European stops.
“It’s definitely different. You’ve got to adjust to the time change, which is difficult. A lot of times the grass is different. It tends to be windy in some of these places,” he said. “The people and cultures are different. I love it, though. I love going around the globe.”
The Yellow Jackets last competed November 3-5, winning the Princeville Warrior Makai Invitational in Hawai’i, and will kick off the spring season Feb. 22 in the Puerto Rico Classic.
Schniederjans isn’t leaving the game during Tech’s down time.
Over the holiday break, he spent about a week in Florida and another week in California, and each time he made substantial adjustments.
His fall season went well; he averaged 68.2 strokes per round, went 48-under par in 15 rounds, put together a record of 344-9, won the Carpet Capital Collegiate, finished third in another tournament, tied for second two times and tied for sixth in yet another.
Even with that impressive run, he’s looking to improve.
“I’ve been working on some things in my swing, especially my ball striking. And I’ve been working out more than usual,” Schniederjans said. “Moreso than other off seasons I’ve been working on my game, making changes to try and hit it straighter especially off the tee.”
The trip to Florida also was business oriented.
As he is considering moving south upon turning pro next summer, he said, “I went down and stayed with a couple buddies, Patrick Rodgers and Justin Thomas, who are on the PGA Tour now, and played some golf with them and scouted out what it’s like to live in the West Palm Beach/Jupiter area.”
Rodgers, who played at Stanford, and Thomas, who played at Alabama, will not be in the field in Abu Dhabi. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, and Martin Kaymer will be, however, and Schniederjans is looking forward to competing with some of the game’s best players.
With the goal of turning pro after this summer’s British Open (subject to change if he performs especially well in this event at the PGA Valspar Championship March 12-15 in Florida), Schniederjans will take some time to enjoy a new country as well.
“This is the time that I can do that, when I’m young,” he said. “When veterans have been out there a few years, they’re ready to just settle down and play on the PGA Tour, stay in the country. They’re getting married or having kids. I can see this is the best time to take advantage of this [invitation].”
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