BALL GROUND -- Four players from a 67-player field secured their spots at this month’s US Open at Pebble Beach at the sectional qualifying tournament Monday at Hawks Ridge.
Marietta native and Georgia Tech product Ollie Schniederjans and Georgia Tech’s Noah Norton tied for the win after each shooting an 11-under par 133. Robert Castro shot 135 to give the Yellow Jackets a third qualifier, tied with amateur Chandler Eaton
Jaime Lopez Rivarola and Joey Garber tied for the alternate spots with 8-under 136s.
“It’s the United States Open,” Schniederjans said. “It’s the national championship. It’s the biggest major. Going up, you look at it as the hardest test in golf. It has an incredible amount of history. It’s one of my favorite tournaments I’ve ever played in.”
Schniederjans positioned himself well after the first round of the day.
He birdied four holes on the back nine and had just one bogey in the round to enter the second round one shot off the lead with a 4-under 68.
His second time though, he posted four birdies on the front, parred five straight holes, sunk a birdie on the 16th hole and put himself at the front of the pack with an eagle on the par-5 18th hole to close the tournament.
“I thought I had to shoot at least 7-under, probably 8 in the first round,” Schniederjans said. “I had some hope when I saw scores weren’t going that low. I just hung in there on the back nine. I knew I had to take advantage of the par 5s. I just played the last few holes well, and that eagle on 18 was super clutch.”
Norton was the one player ahead of Scheiderjans to begin the second round, but his day was not without drama.
“I didn’t even check the leaderboard,” Norton said. “I’ve been in so many of these 36-whole tournaments. I know it can change with the flip of a switch. You can’t get too caught up on what the scores are. You just have to focus on yourself and play every whole the best you can.”
The amateur started his day with a pair of bogeys on his first two holes before birdying seven of the final 15 holes of his first round.
He did not hit adversity until much later in the second round, when he double-bogeyed the 17th hole after birdies on seven of his first 14.
He responded again, though with a birdie on 18 to pull even with Schniederjans.
“You just have to stick to it,” Norton said. “You have to know who you are and how good your game is. It’s easy to press and try to get it back. I thought I did a good job of staying stable and sticking to what I wanted to do.”
An up-and-down first round that featured an eagle, five birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys sent Eaton to the second round at minus-3.
He played a much cleaner second round, though six birdies and no bogeys.
Castro was a stroke better heading into the second round at 4-under after overcoming his own pair of bogeys in the first round.
He was 6-under through his fist six holes in the second round, and while he had one setback with another bogey, he was able to avoid a three-way tie for the final qualifying spot.