Feb. 21, 2017
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – Freshman Luke Schniederjans fired a 7-under-par 65 Tuesday, overtaking five other golfers to win medalist honors, while 28th-ranked Georgia Tech shot 7-under 281 and finished in a tie for third place at the 25th annual Puerto Rico Classic.
TECH LINEUP – Schniederjans (Powder Springs, Ga.) carded six birdies, an eagle and a bogey to post his best round of the year, beating the 66 he shot on the way to the Carpet Capital Collegiate title in September. He began his round Tuesday with three birdies in his first five holes. After a bogey on his sixth hole, the par-4 9th, he chipped in for eagle at the par-5 11th, birdied 12 and 15, then parred his last six holes.
He finished the tournament with a 54-hole total of 206 (-10), one shot shy of his winning total at the Carpet Capital. It was his second tournament championship this year, putting him two ahead of his older brother, Ollie, a three-time Tech All-American who won six tournaments in his career, though none his first two years on the Flats.
“I got off to a really good start early,” said Schniederjans, who said he did not know where he stood until the round was over. “I had a bogey, but chipped in for eagle the right after, so it was a pretty mistake-free round. All the parts of my game were really solid. I didn’t really know where I stood until after we finished.”
When asked how this victory compared to winning the Carpet Capital Collegiate in his first start in the fall, Schniederjans said, “The first one was probably the harder one. This time, I had experience already and knew how to execute my shots coming down the stretch. I’m super excited, and looking forward to competing more this spring and trying to win some more.”
Junior James Clark (Columbus, Ga.) shot his second straight subpar round with a 71, freshman Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) carded an even-par 72, and freshman Tyler Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) added a 73 for the Yellow Jackets in Tuesday’s round. Ogletree finished in a tie for 12th place at 215 (-1), his best finish of the year. Clark tied for 40th at 222 (+6), Strafaci tied for 48th at 224 (+8).
Junior Chris Petefish (Danville, Calif.), who finished ninth in this event a year ago, shot a 74 and did not count for the second straight round. He finished in a tie for 52nd at 226 (+10). Sophomore Tyler Joiner (Leesburg, Ga.), played as an individual and finished at 223 (+10).
TEAM LEADERBOARD – No. 22 Clemson held onto its 36-hole lead by posting a 3-under-par 285 Tuesday and finishing at 19-under-par 845. The Tigers finished 11 shots ahead of No. 9 Georgia, whose 1-over 289 Tuesday left the Bulldogs at 8-under 856 for the tournament. Tech finished in third-place tie with NC State at 5-under 859, the only other teams to complete 54 holes under par.
Ohio State (865, +1), Kentucky (867, +3), Purdue (869, +5), Middle Tennessee State (870 (+6), Northwestern (875, +11) and No. 15 Mississippi (878, +14) rounded out the top 10 in the 15-team field.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERBOARD – Schniederjans won the tournament by one shot over 36-hole leader Bryson Nimmer of Clemson, who shot 71 Tuesday and finished at 9-under-par 207. Timmy Hildebrand of Purdue and Ryan Lumsden of Northwestern tied for third at 211 (-5).
Kentucky’s Cooper Musselman and Clemson’s Doc Redman tied for fifth at 212 (-4), with three golfers tied at 213 (-3) and two at 214 (-2). Ogletree finished in a group of eight players at 215 (-1).
HEAD COACH Bruce Heppler SAID – “We made improvement each day and made better decisions as we went along. It was a a really positive experience. The freshmen have only played three or four events, but they played solidly and are getting better every day. Luke is really playing well.”
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION – Georgia Tech made its 25th appearance in the Puerto Rico Classic, typically the second event on the Yellow Jackets’ spring schedule after its opening trip to Hawai’i, having participated in every renewal of this tournament. The 54-hole event is played at the 7,074-yard, par 72 River Course at the Rio Mar Beach and Spa Resort.
Eleven of the 15 teams in the field were ranked among the nation’s top 50 in the Golfstat rankings – Georgia (9), Mississippi (15), North Carolina (17), Clemson (22), Georgia Tech (28), Northwestern (36), Purdue (40), Kentucky (42), Middle Tennessee State (47), Alabama (48) and NC State (50). Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Maryland and UNC Greensboro round out the field.
Tech has won the event five times and finished second six times. Six Jackets have earned medalist honors, including Mikko Rantanen (1994), Stewart Cink (1995), Matt Kuchar (1998), Troy Matteson (2002), Roberto Castro (2007) and James White (most recently in 2011).