Aug. 12, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
THE FLATS – It is impossible to be dialed in all the time as a golfer. Ollie Schniederjans and Richard Werenski, however, have been on beam more than most this summer, which is the goal of most reasonable linksters and no small part of why they’ll be teeing off today in the U.S. Amateur Championship.
They are to return to Georgia Tech for their sophomore and juniors seasons, respectively, next Monday. First, they’re about to reap the rewards of their super summers at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado. Another Tech player, incoming freshman Shun Yat Hak, is in the field as well. They’ll all play 36 holes of stroke play through Tuesday as a 312 golfer field is pared down to 64 for stroke play Wednesday through Sunday.
This is a big deal, about as big as it gets for amateurs, and while riding to a U.S.G.A. banquet Sunday on the eve of the tournament, they both pointed back to Tech’s convincing win of the ACC Championship in April as their respective springboards to recent success.
Werenski won the prestigious Porter Cup last month in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and qualified for the U.S. Amateur by finishing second in a regional qualifier in his hometown of South Hadley, Mass. Schniederjans won a qualifier at Atlanta’s Piedmont Driving Club.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last year,” said Schniederjans. “I think my better play is from . . . mentally I’m a little more at ease. I’m not searching; I’ve kind of found my groove. You’ll never have it figured out, but you can definitely get in a groove.
“I guess you could say the ACC tournament was kind of my start. I hadn’t really had a chance to win a tournament in a long time, and I saw the leaderboard on 17 and I was tied for the lead with two holes left. It was like confirmation that what I was doing was going to give me a chance to win. That was kind of the turning point.”
Schniederjans handed the phone to Werenski, who echoed his sentiments. He and Ollie tied for seventh in the ACCs, where at different points both were buoyed by their work.
“ACCs for me, too. I was in the lead after the second day and I realized I could play,” Richy said. “I got more focused on my tempo and keeping my swing light, not as technical. I’ve worked on the mental side of things.”
This is Schniederjans’ first U.S. Amateur, and Werenski’s third. He made it in 2009 and 2010, when he qualified for match play and won his first match.