“I just don’t think of it, either way,” he said, shortly after finishing his opening round Wednesday afternoon at the Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club.
And there already are signs he may not have to.
Ollie was one of the more decorated college golfers ever to play for the Yellow Jackets. He was a three-time all-American and two-time ACC player of the year, among his laundry list of accomplishments at Tech. But while Ollie didn’t nab a college victory until his junior season, Luke notched two his freshman year.
Luke’s father – also named Ollie – stressed the importance of these two wins for Luke’s development, noting that “(those wins) were important to show him his own path.”
It’s a path increasingly divergent from the shadow of his brother, one Luke is rapidly crafting for himself.
But escaping the shadow does not mean a diverging relationship – quite the contrary.
“They’re each other’s best friend,” said his mother, Linda Schniederjans. She said Luke has been able to learn from Ollie’s experiences and vice versa. “It’s been more of a benefit than a challenge,” she said, when asked whether the presence of his brother ever made life difficult for Luke. Luke categorized their relationship as “super close.”
Under the shade of a tree overlooking the green for the ninth hole, elder Ollie splits his attention, keeping tabs on each of Luke’s shots then dutifully reporting shot-by-shot to younger Ollie via text, down to the exact yardage. As he strides down 18 a couple of hours later, phone in hand, the texts continue to fly.
Luke shot 69 on Wednesday afternoon, unhappy with his three 3-putts in the first seven holes and with a birdie putt that burned the edge of the 18th hole. He’ll head into Thursday’s second round in a tie for eighth, four shots off the pace set by Jake Fendt, a rising junior at Kennesaw State.
Kyle Hess / Kennesaw State Athletics
He started the day with a volatile front nine, going six consecutive holes without making a par, but posting a one-under 35 at the turn. His round calmed down from there, finishing with a bogey-free 34 on the back-nine to enter the clubhouse at 3 under for the day.
A year ago, on his way to shooting 20 under and finishing second, none of Luke’s four rounds were higher than a 68. He enters this year’s field – one that is notably stronger than in years past -- as one of the favorites to win it.
“I’m hoping it’s the worst of the week,” he said of Wednesday’s round. “I’m definitely hitting the ball well.”
Luke’s bio on Ramblinwreck.com makes only one reference to any similarity between Luke and his older brother. “Has similar confidence and belief in his ability as does Ollie,” it reads. And if Wednesday is any indication, that’s not just some cliché.
“I’m always kind of out here trying to shoot five (under) or better,” Luke said, “given the circumstances.”
But the expectations for the week and weekend ahead did not stop there.
“I’m gonna try to go low, man. Shoot like 10 under (tomorrow).”
Regardless, Luke will forge on his own path, through the weekend, into the summer, back to campus, on the course, off the course.
Luke Schniederjans is not his brother. No, he’s making a name all his own.