May 26, 2014
Hutchinson, Kan. – Ollie Schniederjans and Seth Reeves, Georgia Tech’s top two players all year long, each picked up a pair of big birdies over the final five holes Monday to keep the Yellow Jackets safely inside the top eight, and Tech has advanced to match play at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.
The Yellow Jackets finished fifth in the 54-hole stroke-play qualifier and will play Oklahoma State, who finished fourth, in a quarterfinal match that begins at 8:50 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The eight schools advancing to match play on Tuesday are 1. Stanford (827/-13); 2. Alabama (836/-4); 3. LSU (836/-4); 4. Oklahoma State (840/even); 5. Georgia Tech (841/+1); 6. UCLA (844/+4); 7. SMU (845/+5) and 8. Illinois (845/+5).
Tech’s match will begin at the 10th tee, while Stanford, which finished first in stroke play by nine shots, will take on No. 8 Illinois at the same time off the first tee.
Defending national champion Alabama, which tied LSU for second place in stroke play, got the No. 2 seed in a scorecard match and faces No. 7 SMU at 8 a.m. ET. LSU, the third seed, will meet No. 6 UCLA at the same time.
If Tech wins, it will take on the winner of the Stanford-Illinois match at 2:45 p.m. Eastern time.
Schniederjans and Reeves made sure Tech got to match play after the Yellow Jackets began the day in sixth place. Schniederjans bombed a drive and stuck his wedge close and made birdie at No. 14, while Reeves knocked his tee shot close and made the putt at the par-3 15th. Both players got up and down for birdies at the par-5 17th, solidifying their grip on the fifth position.
Tech shot a 2-over-par 282, the same score it posted in the second round, as Schniederjans and Reeves each shot 2-under-par 68. Anders Albertson added a hard-fought 72 (+2), while Bo Andrews and Richy Werenski each carded 74s.
“With the long grass here, anyone can make a seven or an eight, so you’re never comfortable,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “But Ollie and Seth played phenomenal rounds today. That’s as high as either one of them could’ve shot. Anders (Albertson) did a phenomenal job after he was 3-over through five and then played 1-under from there, and that was huge for us. We needed every one of them today.
“I felt pretty good today when we hit the fairway [at 18] and got those two birdies on 17, then I thought we would be OK.”
Meanwhile, Schniederjans was engaged in a race for the individual championship and finished 54 holes tied with Stanford’s Cameron Wilson at 6-under-par 204. After beginning the day tied for third place, the Tech junior from Powder Springs, Ga., went out and shot a 2-under-par 68 while Wilson, the 36-hole leader, fired an even-par 70. Schniederjans achieved a tie for the lead when he birdied 17, but Wilson birdied from nearly the same position to regain the lead for himself. The Stanford senior, however, bogeyed the final hole to set up the playoff.
They wound up playing three holes in the sudden death playoff, each making pars on the 18th and 10th holes before Wilson rolled in a 10-foot birdie at No. 17 to win the playoff.
Thus, Schniederjans, a winner five times this year, was a runner-up for the second straight week after finishing second at the NCAA Raleigh Regional and just missed becoming Tech’s fourth national collegiate champion. Reeves, with a 4-under-par 206 total, wound up in a three-way tie for sixth place just two strokes off the lead.
“Ollie was phenomenal. He missed a couple of short ones that he won’t feel good about, but he’s just good,” said Heppler. “He continued to play and be positive even after he missed those. I’m really proud of Seth. He’s come a long way, and that was a stud round. He could have easily won this golf tournament. He’s worked really hard.”
Tech finished second in stroke play at last year’s NCAA Championship in Milton, Ga., and won its quarterfinal match against UNLV before falling to eventual champion Alabama in the semifinals. In their first two appearances in the match play championship (2010 and 2011), the Yellow Jackets fell in the quarterfinals to Augusta State, which both times went on to win the national championship.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP THURSDAY SCHEDULE
QUARTERFINAL MATCH PLAY:
8 a.m. ET
Match 1 – No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 7 SMU (off No. 1 tee)
Match 2 – No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 UCLA (off No. 10 tee)
8:50 a.m. ET
Match 3 – No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 8 Illinois (off No. 1 tee)
Match 4 – No. 4 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 5 Georgia Tech (off No. 10 tee)
SEMIFINAL MATCH PLAY:
2 p.m. ET – Winner of match No. 1 vs. winner of match No. 2
2:45 p.m. ET – Winner of match No. 3 vs. winner of match No. 4
The two teams advancing from match play on Tuesday, will meet for the 2014 NCAA national championship at 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 28.