With the Yellow Jackets knotted 2-all with UNLV, the final match between Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans and the Rebels’ Kevin Penner went to a 19th hole. Schniederjans nailed his approach shot to the green within 2 feet of the hole, and after Penner missed a chip shot for birdie, Schniederjans hit the ball in for the match-winner.
Schniederjans, who was mobbed by his teammates as soon as the ball was in the cup, said he didn’t exactly feel elation when he saw where the approach shot landed.
“I saw it bounce and I was bummed it didn’t go in” said Schniederjans, who added that he didn’t feel much pressure to make the putt. “It’s almost like it gets past the point where you have the weight of the Georgia Tech Nation on your shoulders. I just feel super relaxed, and whatever happens happens.”
Schniederjans said he has glanced at the leaderboard a few times, and after hearing the roar of the crowd behind him, knew that his teammate, former Etowah High School standout Anders Albertson, had tied the match up at 2-all with a 2-and-1 win over Kurt Kitayama.
The crowd swelled as Schniederjans and Penner walked toward the tee on No. 1 for their playoff.
“I knew it was down to my match,” Schniederjans said. “I never really thought about it during the day. I just knew I had to win my match. That’s all you can control.”
The refrain Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler and his players were uttering after the match seemed like it was more fitting for a computer-programming course.
Backslash, file, save.
“Just put in your memory,” Schniederjans said.
Heppler encouraged his players to draw upon the good experiences and forget the bad ones.
“Backslash, file, save,” Heppler said. “That’s what you do when something is good. Computer school — it’s ‘backslash, file, save,’ or ‘backslash, delete.’ You make a choice. That’s what you do with your good ones and your bad ones.”
Heppler, who ran across the course just in time to see Schniederjans’ putt to win the playoff, said it was a special moment.
“They came in (Friday) and got some things done that we didn’t get done a year ago,” Heppler said. “The fun thing about coaching is just watching somebody do something cool. You get to go along for the ride. You are a nobody yourself and then you get to watch kids progress and do things that they couldn’t go before. There is nothing like it.”
Albertson, who won his match 2 and 1, caught a ride across the parking lot before sprinting up the fairway on No. 1 to see Schniederjans’ putt.
“It was exciting,” Albertson said. “Coach Heppler has had a couple of teams make it to match play, then lose in the first round, so it was nice to get over that hurdle for him. We are living to play (today).”
In other matches, Georgia Tech’s Seth Reeves fell to Carl Johnson 4 and 3, while Shun Yat Hak lost to UNLV’s A.J. McInerney on the 18th hole. Bo Andrews won the first match for Georgia Tech when he beat Nicholas Maruri 3 and 2.
Georgia Tech will face Alabama, a 4-1 winner over New Mexico, in the semifinals.
Crimson Tide coach Jay Seawell said it won’t be easy to beat the Yellow Jackets.
“This is their home,” Seawell said. “Bruce is a great coach and they will be well-prepared. They are very good. They could beat us on any golf course. We know that, so we need to do our best.”
The pairings, which were set by the coaches, will begin at 10:45 a.m. with Albertson and Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt. Hak will follow against Trey Mullinax, Andrews and the Tide’s Scott Strohmeyer will be in the third group and Reeves will face Alabama’s Justin Thomas in the penultimate pairing.
Schniederjans will get another chance to close out a round for the Yellow Jackets when he plays in the final pairing against Cory Whitsett.
In the other semifinal, California — a 3-2 winner over Arizona State — will face Illinois, which beat defending national champion Texas 3-2.