THE FLATS – Looking to complete a strong summer finish and perhaps playing in the event together for perhaps the final time, Georgia Tech’s Noah Norton, Andy Ogletree, Luke Schniederjans and Tyler Strafaci begin competition Monday at the 120th United States Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes Resort in Bandon, Ore.
Bandon Dunes golf course will host all seven days of the championship, with Bandon Trails serving as the co-host for the two rounds of stroke play Monday and Tuesday. Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, all qualifying events for the U.S. Amateur were cancelled, and the 264-player field (down from the normal 312) was set using a set of exemption categories, expanded use of the World Amateur Golf Ranking and finishes in recent United States Golf Association championships.
Ogletree, playing in the U.S. Amateur for the fifth time, will defend the 2019 championship he won last August at Pinehurst Resort and attempt to become the first player to win back-to-back championships since Tiger Woods won three consecutive titles from 1994-96. Norton, Schniederjans and Strafaci are competing in the U.S. Amateur for the fourth time each, and received spots in the field on the strength of their WAGR rankings.
Strafaci’s victory in the North & South Amateur in July also came with an exemption into the U.S. Amateur, and he won the Palmetto Amateur a week later. His father, Frank, who was his caddie at the North & South, will be on the bag again for the U.S. Amateur. The family traveled to the West Coast Wednesday, and Strafaci and his brother Trent will play a couple of rounds in the area before they get to Bandon Dunes.
“It will be good to get out to the West Coast again. I’ve heard awesome things about it, a links style course that will be different for everyone,” said Strafaci, who is playing in his fourth U.S. Amateur. Along with Norton, Ogletree and Schniederjans, who have formed the core for 14 Tech tournament victories the last three years, they 13 U.S. Amateur appearances between them. “The last year spending time with Luke, Andy and Noah, has been terrific. I don’t see any team that’s got four guys like that and is so deep. It’s cool and reassuring when you’re playing with them.”
Tech Talks with Tyler Strafaci
Tech Talks with Andy Ogletree
Norton, 21, of Chico, Calif., has competed in three U.S. Amateurs and advanced to the Round of 16 in 2017 at The Riviera Country Club. Norton also qualified for last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and has reached match play in two U.S. Junior Amateurs. Norton, a rising senior at Georgia Tech ranked No. 60 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection and won the Patriot All-America Invitational last December. He finished runner-up to Cooper Dossey in the 2019 North & South Amateur and was the 2017 California State Amateur runner-up.
Ogletree, 22, of Little Rock, Miss., became the third Georgia Tech player to win the Amateur last August. He has competed in four U.S. Amateurs and was a member of the winning 2019 USA Walker Cup Team. He earned second-team All-America honors for the second time as a senior in 2019-20. An All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection, Ogletree was chosen to this year’s USA Arnold Palmer Cup Team. He was also a quarterfinalist in the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur. Ogletree is fully exempt into the U.S. Open and Masters this fall and has competed in three PGA Tour events this year. He was a quarterfinalist in the 2020 Western Amateur and enters defense of his 2019 U.S. Amateur title ranked No. 9 in the world.
Schniederjans, 22, of Alpharetta, Ga., is the third member of his family to play sports for Georgia Tech. His older brother, Ollie, won the 2014 Mark McCormack Medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® and has played on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours, and another brother, Ben, was a baseball pitcher. Luke, who has competed in three U.S. Amateurs, earned third-team All-America and All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors as junior and has won three collegiate tournaments. He won the 99th Georgia Amateur with a birdie on the first playoff hole on July 12 and is ranked No. 76 in the world.
Strafaci, 22, of Davie, Fla., won the 2020 North & South Amateur, defeating William Holcomb V, 3 and 1, in the final. His grandfather, Frank, won two North & South Amateurs (1938, 1939) and the 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links. Tyler, who competed in the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and two U.S. Junior Amateurs, has played in three U.S. Amateurs and advanced to the Round of 32 in 2017. Ranked No. 51 in the world, Strafaci also won the Palmetto Amateur this summer, a week after his North & South triumph. He will return to Georgia Tech for a fifth year in 2020-21 and is a three-time All-East Region and two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) performer.
Tyler Strafaci won the North & South Amateur and Palmetto Amateur this summer, while Luke Schniederjans won the Georgia State Amateur.
The quartet will be chasing a title won five times by Georgia Tech’s legendary Bobby Jones (1924 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930), by Matt Kuchar in 1997 and last year by Ogletree.
The eventual champion, crowned in a 36-hole final next Sunday, endures a grueling week of golf, beginning with 36 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday. Each of the 264 entrants will play one round each at the resorts Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails courses. After Tuesday, the low 64 finishers qualify for match play competition – round of 64 Wednesday, rounds of 32 and 16 Thursday, quarterfinal matches Friday, semifinal matches Saturday and the 36-hole championship match on Sunday. All matches through the semifinals will take place at Bandon Dunes. Sunday’s 36-hole final will be played on both the No. 4 (morning round) and No. 2 (afternoon round) courses.
The U.S. Amateur brings to a conclusion what has been a successful summer for Georgia Tech golfers. Strafaci won the North & South Amateur and the Palmetto Amateur in early July, while Schniederjans captured the Georgia Amateur Championship July 12, and rising junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) won the Southeastern Amateur a week later. Rising sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) tied for seventh place at the Palmetto Amateur and tied for 19th at the Southeastern Amateur.
U.S. AMATEUR SCHEDULE OF COMPETITION (TV/streaming coverage)
- Monday, Aug. 10: First round, stroke play
- Tuesday, Aug. 11: Second round, stroke play
- Wednesday, Aug. 12: Round of 64, match play (3-4 p.m. Peacock, 4-6 p.m. Golf Channel)
- Thursday, Aug. 13: Rounds of 32 and 16 matches (3-4 p.m. Peacock, 4-6 p.m. Golf Channel)
- Friday, Aug. 14: Quarterfinal matches (3-4 p.m. Peacock, 4-6 p.m. Golf Channel)
- Saturday, Aug. 15: Semifinal matches (4-7 p.m. Golf Channel)
- Sunday, Aug. 16: Championship match (4-7 p.m. Golf Channel)
TEE TIMES FOR GEORGIA TECH PLAYERS (local time)
- Noah Norton – 9:45 a.m. Monday (Bandon Trails) / 1:18 p.m. Tuesday (Bandon Dunes)
- Andy Ogletree – 9:01 a.m. Monday (Bandon Trails) / 1:14 p.m. Tuesday (Bandon Dunes)
- Luke Schniederjans – 1:14 p.m. Monday (Bandon Dunes) / 9:01 a.m. Tuesday (Bandon Trails)
- Tyler Strafaci – 8:28 a.m. Monday (Bandon Trails) / 12:41 p.m. Tuesday (Bandon Dunes)
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Georgia Tech’s golf team has completed 25 years under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 64 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.