Georgia Tech great Ollie Schniederjans is not the nervous type. But he conceded that he expected to feel something when he teed off in the opening event of the 2017 PGA Tour season Thursday at the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.
“I’m pretty sure, and I hope that I’ll get butterflies again,” he said earlier this week. “I haven’t had those in awhile.”
The last time he said he felt butterflies on a first tee was at the 2015 U.S. Open, in the summer after his senior season with the Yellow Jackets. Since then, Schniederjans has played the British Open, a number of PGA Tour events and a season on the Web.com Tour. Thursday, though, he teed off as a member of the PGA Tour, having earned his tour card through his performance on the Web.com Tour.
“This has been the goal since I started playing golf, which was about 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s been a long process in the making.”
Schniederjans wasn’t the only Tech grad starting his rookie season Thursday. Richie Werenski also earned his tour card through his play on the Web.com Tour. The two played half a practice round earlier in the week at the Silverado Resort & Spa north course.
“It’s really cool to have a teammate and someone you’ve kind of been through some things with,” Schniederjans said.
Werenski made quite the debut, ending Thursday tied for 22nd at 3-under 72. Schniederjans was tied for 129th at 3-over 75. They were two of seven Tech grads in the field, joining Roberto Castro, Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Cameron Tringale.
“It’s a good time in my life,” Schniederjans said. “Very grateful for the opportunities. What a thrill – getting to play on the PGA Tour.”
One way in which Schniederjans will stand out no matter how he fares – he won’t be wearing a visor or a cap. As an amateur, it might not have mattered, but caps and visors are billboards for touring pros whose space can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Schniederjans said that he doesn’t like the bills of hats and that “I got a really good deal without a hat.”
But, he said slyly, “I could get used to it for the right number.”