From Sep. 9–11, the Tech golf team competed at the Carpet Capital Invitational in Rocky Face, Ga. For the fourth straight year, the Jackets were able to claim the individual title. Freshman Luke Schniederjans won the tournament with a score of -11 through three rounds.
The Powder Springs, Ga., native’s strong performance started on Saturday when he hit a six-under 66, launching himself into a tie for the lead. It ended on Sunday, his two-under 70 on the tournament’s final day enough for him to break a tie with Auburn redshirt senior Ryan Benton.
Schniederjans’ brother, Ollie, won the tournament two straight years in 2013 and 2014, beginning the streak that his younger brother carries on.
Unfortunately for Tech, Schniederjans’ success did not count towards the team’s, due to his classification.
14 teams attended the tournament, with each contributing five golfers to be counted towards their team’s score. Players not selected towards their college’s delegation could nevertheless compete at the tournament; however, their scores wouldn’t count towards their teams’ rankings.
This was the case for Schniederjans, who outplayed his fellow Jackets despite not being chosen to represent Tech. His success may have been in part due to his familiarity with the course, as he later told ramblinwreck.com.
“I played a high school tournament two or three times [on this course], so that helped me,” Schniederjans said after the third day’s conclusion.
The five golfers who did compete for the scored Tech team were junior James Clark, senior Michael Hines, sophomore Tyler Joiner, freshman Andy Ogletree and junior Chris Petefish.
The team as a whole finished tied for 5th overall with a total score of -8. The biggest problem that prevented the Jackets from grabbing a higher spot was an extremely sluggish start for the first two days. After the second day, the Jackets were sitting in 10th place with a score of +5.
However, behind the strong performances of Clark and Hines, the team managed to put up a -13 final round, catapulting themselves up in the rankings. With two ACC teams beating Tech at this event in Virginia (1st with a score of -31) and Clemson (3rd with a score of -16), the Jackets will have to look to improve greatly this fall if they want to be competitive in the spring.
Individually, the Jackets that competed as a team showed highly variable individual performances. On one hand were Clark and Hines, both of whom finished under par and tied for 11th and 18th, respectively. On the other hand were Ogletree and Petefish, both finishing above par and far down the leaderboard.
For a player like Ogletree, a true freshman, this could be chalked up to nerves or lack of experience. But for an athlete like Petefish, who is a junior who led the team in many events last year, this is a disappointing start.
The good news for Tech’s team, though, is that Schniederjans came through. Entering this tournament, his ability to adapt to the high level of collegiate competition was unknown. He was not ranked as high nationally as his teammates and fellow freshmen Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci. However, given the opportunity to play in an early-season tournament, he took full advantage.
Tech will compete in the Maui Jim Invitational from Sep. 23–25. This event will include different teams and will allow Tech to test itself against teams that it wouldn’t usually face until the postseason. It will be interesting to see how talented freshmen like Schniederjans mesh with the team moving forward.