“I’m trying to win the U.S. Amateur,” he said. “I got the first step done, but there’s still a long way to go.”
The first step for Schniederjans was to win the qualifier, which he did Wednesday after firing a 10-under 132 over the two-round event at the par-71, 7,028-yard Piedmont Driving Club.
The rising Georgia Tech sophomore and former Harrison standout was tied for the lead Tuesday after a 67, then came back Wednesday to shoot 65.
Schniederjans claimed one of six automatic qualifier spots for the U.S. Amateur, which will be held Aug. 13-19 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
“This will be my first U.S. Amateur, so I’m pretty excited,” he said. “The last couple of years, I didn’t make it. It’s the biggest amateur tournament in the U.S., and I’ve had friends play in it before. While I was happy to see them in it, it sucked for me to watch because I wanted to be there, too. Now, I’m in.”
After completing his first round at 4 under, Schniederjans likely could have shot 1 or 2 under in the second round to nab one of the automatic qualifier positions, but that wasn’t his goal.
“I just felt good coming into (Wednesday),” he said. “It was an important round and it was great to get it done the way I did. I’ve been a good first-round player, but I’ve had some difficulty after that. (On Wednesday), I wanted to beat my first-round score, and I did that. It feels great to play an even better round than my first.”
Schniederjans got off to a good start with a birdie on his third hole, but he gave it right back with a bogey on the fourth. His momentum changed in a big way, however, with eagles at the par-5 sixth and par-4 ninth holes.
“Those holes really got me going,” he said. “I eagled 6, and holed out for eagle on 9, and was 4 under for my round at the turn. I had a solid back nine with three more birdies and a bogey. I didn’t bogey any of the par-5s the whole tournament and just played really solid golf.”
Schniederjans’ 65 matched three others — including fellow qualifiers Sepp Straka and Michael Hebert — as the day’s low round. Straka finished at 133 overall, with Hebert another two strokes back.
Zack Jaworski (136), Chris Waters (136) and Justin Cho (137) also qualified for the U.S. Amateur.
Schniederjans’ former Georgia Tech and Harrison teammate, James White, claimed the first alternate position after shooting 138 (68-70) and finishing seventh. White was tied for third after the first round and was 5 under for the tournament Wednesday before misjudging his approach shot on the par-5 18th, which went into the water and led to bogey.
“I made the wrong club selection on 18 and hit into the water and got bogey,” White said. “But that wasn’t the only shot I had to make up. I had some good momentum throughout the course, but my putter failed me. I hit the ball well and hung in there and made some tough pars at a couple of holes, so it wasn’t just 18 that got me.
“I put myself in a difficult spot all the way around. As first alternate, I would have rather just earned my spot in the U.S. Amateur, but there are other tournaments. I won’t keep my eyes solely on the Amateur.”
Anders Albertson shot also 65 on Wednesday, but he had to settle for the second alternate position after winning a three-man playoff at 139.
Daniel Kim of Kennesaw nearly made the playoff for second alternate, but he finished a stroke back at 140.
Rising Kennesaw Mountain sophomore Jonathan Keppler shot 146 and tied for 29th, while rising South Alabama sophomore and former Harrison golfer Michael Garretson finished at 147 and tied for 35th.
“I definitely didn’t hit enough fairways,” Keppler said. “You have to do that to play well, and I didn’t do that (Wednesday). But this was my first Amateur qualifier, and I had a blast.”
Josh Nelson of Marietta tied for 41st (149) and Mableton’s Brian Katrek tied for 46th (150).