The former Harrison star, who won the Class AAAAA state championship in 2008 and helped lead the Hoyas to the 2010 Class AAAAA state title, has steadily developed into the player he hoped he’d become, as well as the kind of player Tech coach Bruce Heppler expected Schniederjans to be when he enrolled at the school early after graduating in the fall of 2010.
Ranked fourth in the nation in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin collegiate rankings released Monday and fifth in Golfstat’s head-to-head individual standings as of Mar. 26, Schniederjans has won three tournaments this season and leads the Yellow Jackets with a 69.89 scoring average through 27 rounds. He has five top-5 finishes in nine events and has placed in the top 10 six times.
“He’s finally getting settled into his place,” Heppler said. “When you come in and you’ve played in the junior Ryder Cup and played at the highest levels of junior golf, there is a lot expected of you and it takes time to adjust. It’s just expectations, because the only thing you can do is fail.
“I think now he is getting comfortable with his role and his game.”
A 2010 American Junior Golf Association first-team All-American, Schniederjans’ stroke average has improved every year since his freshman season when he averaged 72.8 shots per round. He was named a Golf Coaches Association of America and Golfweek magazine third-team All-American at the conclusion of his sophomore year and is well on his way to earning first-team accolades by the end of the season as long as he remains consistent.
“I definitely had high hopes and believed it would take place,” Schniederjans said on the expectations he had of his college career. “I got off to a good start this fall and won the first tournament, so it couldn’t get much better than that to start a year. To win that and win the final tournament of the fall was a great way for me to get going.”
Schniederjans started the season with a victory in his first event, shooting a 9-under par 207 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. He ended Tech’s fall season with a 10-under 206 first place finish at the United States Collegiate Championship before tying for 12th at the Western Refining College All-America individual event.
Following a slow start to his spring campaign, Schniederjans recently captured his third individual title, winning the Valspar Invitational at Floridian Mar. 24-25 where he shot 12-under par 201 (67-67-67).
“At the (Valspar), I knew that if I just played my game, I’d be tough to beat,” Schniederjans said. “I didn’t do anything special. I just played normal and got the job done, which was good.”
Playing normal has been the key for Schniederjans, who understands that consistency leads to victories.
“I’m all about winning tournaments,” he said. “But, in order to win tournaments you have to be consistent. You have to be knocking on the door all the time. You have to have experience, under the gun, close to the lead, in the final round. They go hand-in-hand. You can’t win randomly and play like crap in between.”
Schniederjans’ consistency also has him ranked 23rd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
“It’s close to where I want to be,” he said about the ranking. “I want to be at the top. I wanted to be No. 1 in junior golf and when I got to college I wanted to be as close to No. 1 as I could get. I’m getting close, so it’s great.”
However, he doesn’t allow the rankings to go to his head.
“(Rankings) shows my results,” Schniederjans said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m the 23rd best player in the world. I look at it as a ranking that shows how I’ve played. I’m just trying to get to No. 1, so I have work to do. I’m never satisfied.”
Schniederjans’ Valspar victory earned him an exemption into next year’s Valspar Championship event on the PGA Tour. He also becomes the first Tech player to win three tournaments in the same year since Troy Matteson won four in 2001-02.
“I’m excited that the three tournaments that I won were three of the four biggest tournaments we play other than the national championship,” Schniederjans said. “And to play a PGA Tour event while I’m in college is a dream come true. It’s one of the things I always envisioned happening.
“They didn’t announce (the PGA Tour exemption) until after the second round, and I thought that was awesome. I definitely think it motivated me.”
With three more tournaments before the NCAA regional, including the ACC championship, Schniederjans believes his goals are well within reach.
“I obviously want to win the national championship,” he said. “But, what I really want is for (Georgia Tech) to contend at the national championship as a team. I’ll have plenty of individual victories here and there, but it’s more important and exciting for me for us to win a national championship.
“This team has been through a lot together. That’s what it’s all about at this point. We’ve won the ACC and other tournaments, but it all comes down to that national championship. That’s everything.”