The Harrison High School alum, current Georgia Tech standout and top-ranked amateur felt the pressure of needing to play a good second round, and he responded.
Schniederjans shot a 3-under par 69 on the Riverside Course and moved to 1-under par, safely qualifying him for the 64-man match-play event, which gets underway today.
“I was very pleased with the way I played (Tuesday),” Schniederjans said. “I knew there was a lot of pressure. I knew I had to come out and play well.
“I (still) didn’t hit it my best, but my putter bailed me out.”
After making the turn at 1-under, Schniederjans made four birdies in a row to start the back nine, getting him to 5-under for the day and 3-under for the tournament. A pair of bogeys late in the round left him in an eight-way tie for 24th.
Schniederjans was seeded 28th for match play and will face the 37th seed, Temple’s Matt Teesdale, in his opening match at 10:50 a.m.
Schniederjans hoped to use stroke play to get rid of some rust from a self-imposed layoff following successful trips to play for the U.S. at the Palmer Cup in England, followed by a British Open qualifier and a tie for 41st in the Scottish Open, but he said he knew his swing would need to get oiled quickly.
“It’s tough to make it to match play,” said Schniederjans, who advanced to match play of the U.S. Amateur for the second time in three attempts. “It’s only two rounds (of stroke play), so you can find yourself going home quickly if you don’t play well.”
Jimmy Beck didn’t have the same worries starting his second round.
The Kennesaw State standout led the 312-man field after shooting a 6-under 65 on Monday and had the opportunity to play the Riverside Course more conservatively than Schniederjans. Beck made two birdies and three bogeys in a second-round 73 that left him 5-under for stroke play and in a five-way tie for third place.
Beck finished three strokes behind the co-medalists, Georgia’s Lee McCoy and Arkansas’ Taylor Moore.
Beck, who finished second in the Georgia Open last month, will have to wait to find out who he will face in his opening match. A 17-player playoff for the final four spots will begin at 8 a.m. today.
“I wasn’t playing it safe,” he said, “but I guess it was kind of safe.
“I tried to treat it just like any other day. (Tuesday) was just like as if I was going out with my buddies and playing. There’s really no pressure. Once you shoot a number like (65), you’re just trying to get to match play, and from there, it’s just make it to the next round. It was kind of relaxing, I guess, in a sense in that I didn’t have to come out here and try to shoot a low number again. So that was good.”
The other Owl in the field, Austin Vick, wished he could have had a round like Beck’s.
After an even-par 72 Monday, Vick was 1-over for the tournament before disaster struck with two holes to play Tuesday.
Finishing on the front nine of the Riverside Course, Vick buried his ball in a greenside bunker on No. 8, which led to a double bogey. He followed with a bogey on his final hole to finish with a 4-over 76, leaving him in a 25-way tie for 95th place and two shots shy of qualifying for match play.
“I actually played better today than yesterday,” Vick said. “It just came down to the last two holes and the double bogey.”
Schniederjans and Beck are anxious to return to the Highlands course for match play. They both said they expect the course to lend itself favorably to the format.
Schniederjans, who failed to win a match in his previous trip this far in the U.S. Amateur, likes the course for its potential volatility.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “There are some holes out here where players can make bogey, which means you could win some holes with pars. There are interesting par-5s and tough par-3s.”
Beck just wants to remain patient.
“From now on, it’s 1-on-1,” Beck said. “I think Highlands suits my eye a little better, but now it’s one shot at a time and one hole at a time.”