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.