No. 1 Schniederjans goes down - to No. 776

By Ryan LavnerAugust 15, 2014, 12:06 am

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Surrounded by hundreds all day, Ollie Schniederjans just wanted to be alone. Late Thursday afternoon, he retreated to a private spot in the Atlanta Athletic Club locker room, in front of stall B-229.

Moments earlier, in front of about 300 hometown fans, the Georgia Tech junior had stumbled off the 18th green after a stunning 1-up loss to Gunn Yang in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur.

“Who is that guy?” Schniederjans asked during a quiet moment in the locker room. “I mean, I’ve never heard of him. He’s going to be incredible. He’s the best player in the world … well, today he is.”

Today, perhaps, but to locate Yang in the world amateur rankings you’d have to keep scrolling – to No. 776.

Schniederjans, meanwhile, has played as the No. 1 all summer, and he likely will remain there at week’s end, earning him spots in both 2015 summer Opens.

Not that he was thinking about that consolation prize afterward.

“I’m just extremely disappointed,” he said.

The thing is, the 21-year-old could easily have bailed early. He could have followed NCAA Player of the Year Patrick Rodgers to the pros. After a school-record, five-win season, Schniederjans could have collected a big-time equipment deal, received a few sponsor exemptions, tried to make it on his own.

But turning pro early would have just felt … unsatisfying.

Despite never winning the NCAA team title, Georgia Tech has churned out a number of pro prospects over the years. Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder won the Haskins Award as the nation’s best player. Troy Matteson won the NCAA title. David Duval was a four-time All-American.

So, sure, while Schniederjans acknowledges there is the potential to rewrite the school record books, that’s not his main motivation.

No, this is finally his year to be the guy, the No. 1, because during the 2013-14 season, he played so well but still didn’t receive the recognition he deserved.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, videos and photos

Last spring he engaged in a cross-country game of H.O.R.S.E. with Stanford’s Rodgers, each guy trading wins and top finishes as they battled for Player of the Year honors. With one final chance to sway voters, Schniederjans lost in a playoff at the NCAA Championship.

“The stress that he was under last spring,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The kid was burned out, physically and mentally, which is why he has played only one amateur event (Palmer Cup) this summer. In the weeks leading up to the Amateur, he quietly worked on his game and even headed to California, to the Titleist Performance Institute, to get his equipment dialed in.

“He wanted to make sure he had enough energy to deal with what was coming,” Heppler said, “and that was the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

That much was apparent during the 36-hole qualifier. Out of sync while playing in a painfully slow three-ball, Schniederjans carded an opening 73, placing him outside the cut line after Round 1.

“When he stepped to the tee on Monday, I told him: You want to know what Rory McIlroy will feel like when he steps to the first tee at Augusta? You’re feeling it now,” Heppler said.

“The players going against Rory are better, of course, but the emotions and feelings and nerves, they’re all the same, regardless of the competition. When you’re the guy, the world No. 1, in your hometown, all he could really do was screw it up.”

But he didn’t, rebounding with a 69 to advance to match play. When asked how it felt, to finally be the top player and the main target in an elite event, Schniederjans replied: “Great. In my comfort zone, like that’s where I should be.”

Which was yet another reason to come back for his senior year.

“Every single tournament he plays he’s going to be the favorite,” Heppler said. “You don’t learn that stuff by finishing 15th in a event. If you really want to progress, to be one of the best players in the world, you have to learn how to deal with the emotions.”

After a 6-and-5 win in the first round, Schniederjans let a late lead slip Thursday morning against Sam Burns. On the first playoff hole, he could only watch as Burns’ 10-footer to win slid by. Schniederjans wound up prevailing on the second playoff hole.

He seemed well on his way to cruising in the afternoon as well, jumping out to a 2-up lead through four holes. “So this is how the No. 1 player in amateur golf plays,” Yang said to himself, but the San Diego State sophomore birdied three in a row (Nos. 5, 6 and 7) to return the match to all square.

Another birdie binge would follow. After Schniederjans regained a 1-up advantage with a par on the difficult 15th, Yang went on a torrid run that left Schniederjans stunned.

On 16, Yang hit a pitching wedge from the fairway bunker to 10 feet. Birdie.

On 17, from nearly the same yardage (142) as the hole before, he stuffed his tee shot to 7 feet. Birdie.

And though the tee was moved up on the par-5 18th, making a narrow fairway even tighter, he bombed a 320-yard drive that left him only a 6-iron into the green. After Schniederjans’ shot from the bunker trickled onto the back fringe, Yang hit a bullet from 190 yards that settled 15 feet away for an easy two-putt birdie to close out the win.

“He was out of his mind, really,” said Schniederjans, who shot 3 under on his own ball, counting the usual concessions. “It took everything he had to get 1 up, so I’m proud I was that hard to beat.”

But there was no mistaking that the disappointment will take a few days, maybe even a week, to subside. 

While Schniederjans slumped on a bench in the locker room, Yang smiled wide as he sat on a wooden chair in the upstairs media center, reliving the best round of his life.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry