Good bogey helps Schniederjans to 36-hole Callaway Gardens lead

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The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada Staal Foundation Open
The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada

Pos. Name Scores
1 Luke Schniederjans (U.S.) 68-66—134 (-6)
T2 Travis Smyth (Australia) 66-69—135 (-5)
T2 Austin Morrison (U.S.) 65-70—135 (-5)
T2 Patrick Cover (U.S.) 66-69—135 (-5)
T2 Patrick Moriarty (U.S.) 68-67—135 (-5)
T2 Blake Morris (U.S.) 68-67—135 (-5)
T2 Chris Erwin (U.S.) 66-69—135 (-5)
T8 a-Alexander Fuchs (France) 67-69—136 (-4)
T8 Jimmy Beck (U.S.) 69-67—136 (-4)
T10 Daniel O’Rourke (U.S.) 69-68—137 (-3)
T10 Emilio Gonzalez (Mexico) 69-68—137 (-3)

 

PINE MOUNTAIN, Georgia— Luke Schniederjans had a decision to make. Should he return to Georgia Tech and take his “COVID year” offered by the NCAA to college athletes because it canceled so many sports in 2020? Or should he turn pro—he had already graduated, after all—and go the play-for-pay route? Schniederjans chose the latter, saying, “I don’t think there was a bad decision either way.” His choice to leave Georgia Tech is paying off. Through 36 holes of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s Qualifying Tournament at Callaway Gardens’ Mountain Course, Schniederjans’ 68-66 opening two rounds puts him at 6-under, giving the Alpharetta, Georgia, resident a one-shot advantage over—count ‘em—six players on the tightly bunched leaderboard.

Schniederjans’ 66, the low score of the day, came thanks to seven birdies and three bogeys. It wasn’t the seven birdies he was most interested in speaking about following his round, however. Instead, it was his bogey at No. 2, following a par at No. 1, that was on his mind. It may have been his most important hole of the day.

After a tee shot on what he called “the hardest hole on the course by a mile,” Schniederjans faced a 230-yard second shot. His approach hit a tree, and he had a terrible lie for a third shot that caused him to miss the green. From there, he chipped to 25 feet for his fourth then drained a 25-footer for bogey. “I knew my line was good. I knew I had a good chance before I hit it. I liked the line a lot. I just had to match the speed up. It was perfect,” he said.

Schniederjans’ birdies came at Nos. 4, 6, 8 and 9 on the front nine and on the 12th, 13th and 17th on the back.

“I had a lot of 75-yard wedge shots, and it’s really gettable,” he said of the course. “But you don’t have a ton of straightforward putts. I left a lot out there, but I feel pretty good.”

First-round leader Austin Morrison is among the six tied for second, along with Americans Chris Erwin, Patrick Cover, Blake Morris, Patrick Moriarty and Australian Travis Smyth. Morrison was cruising along at 2-under through 11 following his opening 65. Things came a bit undone over his final seven holes. He made back-to-back bogeys, starting at 12, and had a double bogey at No. 17. He offset those with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18.

Morrison’s bogey at No. 13 was a three-putt that dropped him to even-par. “I think on 12, I lost focus. I started thinking, Let’s try to make some birdies coming in and really extend (the lead), and that wasn’t the right play. The right play was to stick with my game plan,” the William & Mary graduate observed.

Of the six holding down the second-place spot, Moriarty and Morris both shot 67s, both players improving their positions by five places after opening with 68s.

Did you know amateur Alexandre Fuchs, currently tied for eighth, is a native of Mouans-Sartoux, France and is currently a senior at Liberty University? Fuchs is one of 10 players to shoot two under-par rounds to start the tournament. He is the 79th-ranked player in the PGA TOUR University rankings and 168th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Key Information 

How the Tournament Works 

Ninety-four players entered this tournament and 92 are still playing (Kevin Metzger and Matt Kang withdrew following their rounds). Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses available this week.

Finish Position Status
Medalist Exempt membership for the 2021 season
2nd through 6th (no ties

 

Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season
7th through 25th (plus ties) Conditional membership

 

  • This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the sixth and final position available.
  • Players in this week’s field come from nine countries or regions (Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.
  • As the No. 367th-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Australia’s Travis Smyth splits his time between his home in Sydney, Australia, and Chicago, where his girlfriend lives. “Because COVID has stopped the Asian Tour—normally I would be there and wouldn’t come to the Mackenzie Tour Q-School—and that’s not happening at the moment, I didn’t want this year to look like last year. I just didn’t do much last year,” Smyth said of his decision to enter this tournament.
  • Chris Erwin was happy with two par saves early on his back nine that allowed him to keep his momentum going. He chipped to 14 feet on No. 10 and made a 14-footer for par and then missed the green to the right on the 11th and two-putted from 30 feet for bogey. “That was great,” he said.
  • Blake Morris also called his 14th hole key to his 3-under 67, a two-foot par that was anything but easy. After hitting his approach on the par-4 to 25 feet, he rolled his putt eight feet past the hole. “Honestly, it was greased lightning. I didn’t think it was that bad. If you were watching it, it probably looked bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I made a good comebacker there.”
  • Interestingly, even at 6-under for the tournament, Luke Schniederjans is even-par on the Mountain Course’s two par-5s. He parred them both in the opening round then birdied No. 6 Wednesday and bogeyed No. 16.
  • Through 36 holes, Alexandre Fuchs has made nine birdies and three bogeys to go with a double bogey-6 at the 13th hole in his first round. He has birdied the ninth and 10th holes in each of the first two days.
  • Jimmy Beck, of nearby Columbus, Georgia, made nine pars to start his round then had a little more interesting back nine. The former Kennesaw State player made bookend birdies on Nos. 10 and 18, added birdies at the 14th and 17th, with a bogey at No. 15. He finished with a 3-under 67 and is tied for eighth. In 2020, Beck played in the Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament in Central Florida. He tied for 35th to earn conditional status, although he was unable to tee it up when the Mackenzie Tour canceled its season.
  • As a six-year-old, Jimmy Beck attended the Buick Open held here at Callaway Gardens. At the par-5 seventh hole, Phil Mickelson threw Beck a ball after Mickelson made a birdie. Beck calls that one of his earliest golf memories.
  • In 2019, Jimmy Beck played on the Korn Ferry Tour, making 13 starts and six cuts. He also has six career Mackenzie Tour appearances to his credit.
  • Besides Alexandre Fuchs, Alex Shead, formerly of Augusta University, is at 2-under, while Tyler Copp (Mercer University) is at 1-under. Sam Ohno, Connor McKay and William Nottingham checked in at even-par.
  • During the last two years he was an amateur, Luke Schniederjans won one college tournament and his own state amateur. At the 2019 Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Georgia, Schniederjans put together rounds of 68-67-72 to defeat Ty Strafaci by five strokes. Last July, Schniederjans won the Georgia State Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course, coming from three strokes off the pace on the final day to force a playoff with Brett Barron, taking down Barron with a birdie on the first hole of sudden death.
  • Austin Morrison had moved back to 1-under for the day when he arrived at the par-3 17th. His ball stopped about 20 feet above the hole located in “a little dicey” position. Morrison left his first putt four feet above the cup. “The hole’s cut one or two yards from the slope, and [my putt] rolled down the slope, and I had another six or eight feet coming back for bogey, a putt he missed. Morrison rebounded on his final hole, making birdie to close his day. “It wasn’t ideal,” Morrison said, “but I’m really happy that I battled back and focused on No. 18 and made a three there. At the end of the day, I’m pretty pleased with where I’m at.”
  • As Luke Schniederjans said, the par-4 second hole was easily the most difficult hole on the course Wednesday. The field average was 4.596, with more bogeys (46) than pars (37). The 16th hole was again the easiest hole. The par-5’s average was 4.777, a bit more difficult that the opening round’s 4.617.
  • There were 19 under-par scores in the second round compared to 23 in the opening round.

Quotable

“Last time I was here, I was probably 13 years old. I barely remember the course. It’s definitely cool to come back 10 years later and give it a go, hitting it a little bit further.” –Luke Schniederjans on his only previous visit to Callaway Gardens, for a junior tournament

“I’ve had a lot of 75- to 90-yard wedge shots that I’ve been so frustrated with. I’ve hit some of them good. It’s just not as much as I would like. You hit one to 12 feet—when you tug it—and then you hit one to tap-in range.”  – Luke Schniederjans 

“I’ve played well, but I’ve left a lot of shots out there. But I also understand the course is playing really tricky, so I’m staying patient.” –Blake Morris

“There are a lot of putts that are really breaking around the hole. There are also a lot of tough lies in the fairways, and as a par-70 it’s playing tough.” –Blake Morris

“I’m just focused on trying to keep it in position out here on these greens, trying to get uphill putts for birdie.” –Blake Morris

“I was looking a little sketchy. I hung in there and made some really good putts.” –Blake Morris on his back-nine play late in his round 

“There were a lot of gettable flags, and then there were a few that were on some pretty good slopes.” –Travis Smyth 

“[Tuesday] was stress-free, where today I hit it all over the place and had to scramble for my pars. It was much more stressful.” –Travis Smyth

“The Asian Tour’s not looking good, so it’s a great opportunity to come out and go in Q-School here and hopefully play the Mackenzie Tour. It would be amazing to get some status and have a full year.” –Travis Smyth

“The bonus of the Mackenzie Tour for playing well is you level up to the Korn Ferry Tour. It could be a blessing in disguise a little bit.” –Travis Smyth 

“The ball is running out a long way. Maybe we should change our lines up.” –Chris Erwin

“I feel good about what I’m doing. I put a lot of work in the last couple of months trying to prepare for this. I’m really excited to be playing. It’s been a year-and-a-half of sporadic golf that’s affected everybody.” –Chris Erwin

“I’m in good shape with 36 holes to play. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.” –Chris Erwin 

“It’s odd. I shot three strokes worse but probably hit the ball five shots better.” –Patrick Cover

“I had a really tough finish on the last two holes with the greens, that are getting pretty fast now. It was playing fine, though. It’s firm and fast and rewarding good shots.” –Patrick Cover

“[Tuesday] I had a good putter, and today I had good ball-striking. I’ll try to match them up [Thursday].” –Patrick Cover


 

Second-Round Weather: Warm and sunny in the morning, with a high of 77. Overcast and cooler in the afternoon, with a high of 72. Wind NE at 7-9 mph.