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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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”