By Devin Golden
Georgia Tech was in command throughout the 25th Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic’s first two rounds and stayed that way Sunday at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face.
The Yellow Jackets’ best player spent much of the tournament in a similar spot, and if he could take back his last two holes, he would.
Georgia Tech led at the end of each round at the three-day, 54-hole tournament featuring some of the nation’s top programs and won the team competition by six strokes with a 7-under-par 281 in the final round on the par-72 course.
The Yellow Jackets, the event’s host team, finished at 14-under 850 for the tournament. Georgia shot a 283 in the final round and finished with an 8-under 856 for second place after entering the final round just four strokes behind the Yellow Jackets.
Even with the team competition all but decided Sunday, there still was drama at the end thanks to the individual leaderboard. Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans and North Carolina’s Bailey Patrick each finished at 9-under 207 and were named co-champions after Schniederjans shot a 74 Sunday, when he was 3 over for the final two holes and missed a championship-clinching par putt on the 18th green from no more than seven feet. Patrick shot a 70 on Sunday.
“It was an awful finish,” Schniederjans said.
LSU’s Stewart Jolly finished third at 211, while Georgia’s Joey Garber (212) finished fourth. Georgia’s Michael Cromie, LSU’s Smylie Kaufman, Auburn’s Jake Mondy, Clemson’s Cody Proveaux, South Carolina’s Will Starke and Georgia Tech’s Richy Werenski all tied for fifth at 214.
Schniederjans, who had led since the 16th hole in the first round, was at 10 under and three strokes ahead of Patrick entering Sunday. Schniederjans was two strokes ahead of him with two holes left, but double-bogeyed the 17th hole, which Patrick bogeyed. Both golfers reached the 18th green in two shots, giving each a birdie putt from more than 15 feet.
Each missed but had reasonable par putts — but Schniederjans missed his and Patrick didn’t.
“I hit a good first putt,” Schniederjans said. “I don’t know what happened on the second putt, but I did that four times today. It’s amazing how it turns out at the end of 54 holes, and all those shots add up and you end up tied. (Patrick) played amazing, so I played amazing just to tie him.”
Patrick didn’t expect Schniederjans to miss his par putt.
“Then I had a putt to tie, so there was some added pressure,” Patrick said.
It still was Schniederjans’ first individual championship of his college career, and his performance through the weekend played no small part in his team capturing the championship.
Georgia Tech’s Seth Reeves was 4 over after two rounds, but shot a 67 on Sunday. Werenski was 3 over entering Sunday and also shot a 67. Those performances were enough to hold off Georgia and give the Yellow Jackets their seventh Classic victory overall but first since 2001.
“Seth Reeves also did well,” said Werenski, who birdied on holes 2, 4, 6 and 7. “I started hitting it really good and made some putts.”
Said Schniederjans, “For (Werenski) to come back like that and Seth to play so well, it’s awesome to be on a team like this.”
Georgia’s Cromie entered Sunday at 4-under after shooting a 68 on Saturday, but he shot a 74 on Sunday and his round didn’t count for the Bulldogs.
“I felt like we put ourselves in a good position,” Cromie said, “but we didn’t have it. With Georgia Tech playing well, it would’ve taken a lot. We didn’t go low enough. ... I couldn’t really get anything going.”
LSU finished third in the team competition with an even-par 864, while Clemson finished one shot back in fourth. North Carolina rounded out the top five with an 874, followed by Auburn (875), Wake Forest (880), Middle Tennessee State (884), Texas (887), South Carolina (888), North Florida (893), Tennessee (893), Kennesaw State (897) and Chattanooga (899).