Two top-ranked American players not on Walker Cup practice squad
16 Dec 2014
by Golfweek

see also: The Walker Cup, Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Ollie Schniederjans (left) and Jordan Niebrugge<br>Photos by Tracy Wilcox
Ollie Schniederjans (left) and Jordan Niebrugge
Photos by Tracy Wilcox

By Cassie Stein, Golfweek

A practice session for U.S. Walker Cup hopefuls is set to begin Wednesday at Frederica Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga., and though 16 players were invited, some major names were left off the list. Those include Ollie Schniederjans, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and 2013 Walker Cupper Jordan Niebrugge.

Schniederjans, 21, from Powder Springs, Ga., is finishing up his senior year at Georgia Tech, and was contacted by the U.S. Golf Association and USA captain Spider Miller about being on the practice squad. However, Schniederjans informed them that he was "probably, 90 percent at least," sure he wouldn't stay amateur until September. The 45th biennial match is set to take place at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, Sept. 12-13.

"They were really nice about it," Schniederjans said. "They let me know if I did decide to stick around, this would not affect my chances of getting a spot on the team."

Schniederjans won't turn professional right after the NCAA Championship. As the winner of the 2014 McCormick Medal, awarded to the world's top-ranked amateur, Schniederjans is exempt into the U.S. Open and Open Championship. He also told Golfweek that he is seeking a sponsor's exemption into the Scottish Open for a second consecutive year. He finished tied for 41st at that event in July.

After the Open Championship, Schniederjans would play in any PGA Tour event for which he could get an exemption, but if not, he wants to rest his body to prepare for the start of the PGA Tour's wraparound 2015-16 season. He doesn't want to put too much pressure on himself to make it onto the PGA Tour right away.

"I want my mind and body rested to do something great," he added.

Niebrugge, meanwhile, didn't receive such a call from the USGA. He just wasn't one of the 16 players named to the squad.

"I don't think I played well enough this last summer to earn a spot, to be honest," Niebrugge said. "I was just mediocre. I had nothing to show for."

Niebrugge, who battled a wrist injury for most of the summer, did receive an email from Miller after the announcement was made in which Miller told him to "keep working hard."

Despite the injury, the junior at Oklahoma State was still able to compete in a few tournaments - he finished second at the Northeast Amateur, tied for 27th in the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic and made it to match play at the U.S. Amateur.

In 2013, Niebrugge, ranked 46th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was essentially the only player to play his way onto the team throughout the summer. He was not one of the 16 players invited to that practice session either. That just gives the Mequon, Wis., native more motivation to get back to where he was in 2013.

"It's a long season this spring and I plan on playing well and playing my way on," Niebrugge said. "You just have to go into the spring and this summer, and not worry about that, and let the golf take care of itself.

"That's all you can do if you play well."

ABOUT THE The Walker Cup

The Walker Cup Match is a biennial 10-man amateur team competition between the USA and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland and selected by The R&A. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate-shot) matches.

The first United States Walker Cup Team, which in 1922 defeated the GB&I side, 8-4, at the National Golf Links of America, is considered among the best teams ever and included Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Charles “Chick” Evans and Jess Sweetser. Many of the game’s greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup competition, including U.S. Open champions Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth for the USA and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose for Great Britain and Ireland.

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