Luke Schniederjans captures Georgia Amateur

Georgia Tech graduate Luke Schniederjans captured the Georgia Amateur on Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Georgia Tech graduate Luke Schniederjans captured the Georgia Amateur on Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club.

On the first hole of sudden death, Georgia Tech graduate Luke Schniederjans decided it was time to be aggressive. His 4-iron from 225 yards away landed pin high to set up a two-putt birdie and earn him a victory at the 99th Georgia Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

“It’s going to be a cool memory to know I won a state amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club, just 15 minutes from my house,” Schniederjans said. “It’s a good feeling to win a tournament like this.”

Schiederjans earns a 10-year exemption into the Georgia Amateur, as well as a spot in the Georgia Open at the Ford Plantation in August.

The playoff began on the par-5 18th hole, where minutes earlier Brett Barron made a 10-footer to tie Schniederjans and force a playoff. The two were tied at even-par 213 after 54 holes of regulation; Schniederjans shot 71 and Barron shot 74 in the final round.

That meant a sudden-death playoff between the old friends. Schniederjans remembered being paired with Barron in his first 36-hole junior tournament years ago. But friendships were quickly set aside during the playoff when Schiederjans went for the quick strike.

On the first extra hole, Schniederjans put himself in good position with a long 3-wood off the tee. After watching Barron’s tee shot go in the fairway bunker, Schiederjans hit a high shot that landed 35 feet away. Barron had to layup, but remained alive when his third shot was in almost the same place it had been on the 54th hole.

Shaking the pressure, Schniederjans rolled his eagle putt attempt to within four feet and when Barron missed his birdie effort, all he needed to do was tap it in for the win.

“It wasn’t a super-easy two-putt,” he said. “I had to delicate it down there.”

Schniederjans became the first Georgia Tech golfer to win the Georgia Amateur since Bunky Henry in 1964. He is the 10th Yellow Jacket to win the championship, a list that began with Bobby Jones in 1916.

Schniederjans started the day tied for fourth place at even par. He parred the first 10 holes before a three-putt bogey at No. 11. He got it back with a birdie on No. 12 and finished the round with pars.

“After the second round, I saw the leaderboard keep dropping and dropping,” Schniederjans said. “It didn’t matter how I’d played so far, I was still in this thing.”

Barron began the day tied for the lead with teenager Deven Patel at 3-under. Things were looking good for Barron when the Georgia Southern senior birdied the first hole and took the outright lead. But Barron made four bogeys on the front nine and found himself 2 over after a bogey at 15, only to birdie two of the final three holes to force the playoff.

Barron, the 2018 Georgia Amateur champion, was trying to become the 17th player to win the title more than once.

Patel, a senior at Johns Creek High School and a Virginia commit, remained in the picture until he hit an approach shot on the 14th hole into the bushes and took a triple-bogey. He finished with a 79 and tied for sixth at 5-over.

High school senior Maxwell Ford, a member of the Atlanta Athletic Club, shot 72 and finished third at 2 over.

There were only two scores below par on Sunday: a 67 by Jake Peacock of Milton, who tied for sixth, and Jake Maples of McDonough, who shot 70 and tied for 22nd.