May 28, 2013
Milton, Ga. – Ollie Schniederjans birdied his first four holes en route to a team-best 3-under-par 67 as 7th-ranked Georgia Tech opened the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship with a 6-under-par team score of 274 and stands in second place.
Tech came the closest to matching the 10-under-par 270 shot by Arizona State in the morning wave, finishing the round four shots out. The Sun Devils rode the back of freshman Jon Rahm, who set a competitive course record on the 7,319-yard Capital City Club Crabapple Course with a 9-under-par 61.
No. 2 Alabama, spurred by Justin Thomas’ 67, is in third place after a 5-under-par 275, followed by Illinois at 4-under 276. Top-ranked California, who tied Tech for the PING/Golfweek Preview Invitational title here in the fall, is in fifth place after a 3-under-par 277. Rounding out the top 10 are Oklahoma (2-under 278), 4th-ranked Texas and Oklahoma State (each at 1-under 279), North Florida (even-par 280) and 5th-ranked Washington (1-over 281).
“For all five of them, their first effort out here was very positive,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “I thought they played well. I don’t think it was as low as we could have shot, but I think everybody hit it really well. We’ll just try to get some dinner, and get out of here and get some putts in the morning.
“There are no external expectations on these guys that I don’t think they’re okay with. I think their expectations are larger than anybody else’s, and that’s what you want. That creates a situation where there is not a lot of pressure.”
Tech will begin its second round on the first tee at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday. The final round of the stroke-play portion of the championship is Thursday. The top eight teams in team score following 54 holes of stroke play will advance to the match play portion of the NCAA Championship which begins Friday.
Rahm, the Pac-12 freshman of the year, birdied six holes on his front nine (starting at No. 10) with one bogey, then played a clean back nine with four birdies. He has a four-shot lead over Oklahoma’s Abraham Ancer (65). Cal’s Brandon Hagy shot 66, and Schniederjans is in a group of four players tied for fourth at 67.
Schniederjans, who shot rounds of 73-71-70 in the Preview event in the fall, nearly ran his opening string of birdies to five but missed a two-foot putt on the par-4 14th, then bogeyed the par-3 15th to stop the momentum. After nine straight pars, he made birdie at the par-4 seventh before finishing with a bogey at 9. Reeves, who tied for second in the Preview with rounds of 73-71-66, and Albertson each recorded three birdies on the front (incoming) nine to boost the Yellow Jackets.
“I was bummed about how I finished with a 67,” said Schniederjans, aware of the 61 posted by Rahm in the morning. “I’ve played better than that. I didn’t really get all that I could out of my round. If I just keep playing like this then get some more putts to go …”
“We’ve played this course five times in the last two weeks. We’ve played it a bunch lately and it’s not playing much different than when we played these last couple weeks. It’s been very comfortable for me.”