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Golfers Go Amateur

June 13, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn

Sting Daily

Georgia Tech’s golf season ended last week in the national quarterfinals, and the school year end several weeks before that, but the Yellow Jackets stick together and recent graduate John-Tyler Griffin does not want it any other way.

He marches to his own beat.

Griffin graduated last month, but is delaying a stab at professional golf with hopes of competing for the U.S. in the Walker Cup – the amateur version of the Ryder Cup — in September.

So over a recent four-day stretch, Thursday through Sunday, he was one of six Tech players to compete in the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa. Four did especially well while sticking very much together.

James White shot 276 over four rounds to finished four under-par and in a tie for eighth place in the field of 75 playrs. Paul Haley shot 277 to finish 10th, and Griffin and freshman-to-be Ollie Schniederjans (who gray-shirted this spring after enrolling early) shot 278 to tie for 11th.

Kyle Scott (282) and Richard Werenski (286) finished tied for 25th and 38th, respectively.

“It’s one of the bigger events of the year, with a really good field,” Griffin said from the airport before returning to Atlanta. “I played pretty good; I just didn’t make enough putts.”

After rarely laying up, now comes the laying low. Griffin has a busy summer amateur schedule with the goal of being chosen as one of 10 amateurs to represent his country in the Walker Cup, but there will be no competition this week. In fact, there will not be much of anything golf related.

“I’ll be in Atlanta. I won’t do much playing, and then I have [tournaments] three weeks in a row,” he said. “In my time off I like to lay low.

“We play so much golf that when you get home and you’ve been banging your head against the wall . . . I’ll go to the pool, hang out with girlfriend, play a lot of music. We just got a puppy, and I’ll hang out with the puppy.”

If you’re like me, you wonder about the music. Is Griffin talking about playing his iPod, or playing real music?

That’d be the latter.

A friend taught him to play guitar in eighth grade, and he picked up piano while at Tech. He plays both, and he plays them a lot.

He plays quite a bit of John Mayer material, and writes some of his own. Griffin occasionally plays at functions, and may play at his grandmother’s funeral today in Hilton Head, S.C. She passed away Saturday; cancer called her home.

Soon enough, back to golf.

“I leave next Monday for the Northeastern Amateur. Then, the U.S. Public Links, the Western Amateur in Chicago three weeks in a row,” he said. “Later, the U.S. Amateur is in Wisconsin.”

As you can see, Griffin’s transition from college golfer to the next stage is far from benign. He spoke by phone from the airport, and his schedule will keep him busy enough for the next few months.

After the Walker Cup, whether he plays for the U.S. or not, who knows? That decision will come later.


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