One of the benefits Luke Schniederjans reaps from following in his older brother’s footsteps is having a chance to crib from his PGA Tour sibling’s notes.
The amateur golf circuit still largely frequents the same courses Ollie Schniederjans played earlier this decade, and he’s more than happy to pass along his course notes to his younger brother. It’s a nice benefit most of the time, but it didn’t do Luke much good in his first Players Amateur start last summer.
“He gave me a bunch of notes for the other course,” Luke recalls. “I showed up and it was the wrong course, so not much (help).”
Armed with his own course knowledge in his second Players Am, the younger Schniederjans scorched Berkeley Hall’s North Course for an 8-under-par 63 on Thursday to grab a two-shot lead after the first round of the 19th annual event. His older brother played the Players Am in 2013 and 2014, when it was contested on Berkeley Hall’s South Course.
Luke followed Ollie’s path to Georgia Tech, and now he’s trying to do something his older brother never did — win the Players Amateur. So far, so good.
Playing in the final group of the day, Schniederjans made nine birdies and one bogey during the heat of a sizzling summer day in the Lowcountry, giving him a two-shot advantage over Bluffton’s Bryson Nimmer and New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier.
“Even though it was really hot, it was still get-able because the greens are perfect and the balls are flying,” Schniederjans said. “I made some long putts early to get it going. I hit it solid and made some more putts on the back nine.”
Nimmer, a Hilton Head Christian Academy alumnus and Clemson star whose family lives at Berkeley Hall, entered the week with unfinished business after losing a playoff to Philip Knowles last year. The two were paired together again Thursday, and Nimmer had the upper hand. He salvaged a 2-under front nine with a chip in for par after his tee shot found the water at No. 9, then jump-started his round on the back with back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th before draining a long eagle putt at the par-5 15th.
“Playing with Philip brings back the memories, but at the same time it makes me focus back on what I am trying to do every tournament, which is sticking to my plan and executing it,” Nimmer said.
Hillier went into his second Players Amateur start with confidence borne from a familiarity with the course, which is in perfect condition and rewards players who avoid trouble off the tee.
“This course you just need to keep it in the fairway,” Hillier said. “It’s a patience game. You are going to have birdies, you just have to wait for them.”
The second round gets underway Friday at 7:30 a.m., with Schniederjans in the first group off No. 10 tee. Admission is free and the tournament is open to the public.
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