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Canadian Open notebook: Schniederjans gives a pro performance

OAKVILLE, Ont. – Ollie Schniederjans is in the hunt again this week on the PGA Tour.

The only difference from a week ago is he’s about to collect a big paycheck for it.

Schniederjans, who joined some exclusive company last week at the British Open as an amateur, is making his professional debut in the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club.

He’s in a tie for 11th place after a round of 6-under-par 66 Saturday, carrying his fine form across the Atlantic from the Old Course at St. Andrews. He finished in a tie for 12th place in the season’s third major, and in the process became just the third amateur since 1960 to make the cut in both the U.S. Open and British Open.

The others? Oh, just Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

“After playing a couple majors, getting used to this atmosphere, playing around a lot people, I feel very comfortable in the scene,” Schniederjans said after his round Saturday. “I’m thrilled to be playing well and excited that this was my first week.”

Schniederjans is a two-time All-American and the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, so he’s no stranger to the spotlight. But his senior season at Georgia Tech was trying at times. The 22-year-old watched as his friend, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, became the biggest star on the PGA Tour by winning the Masters and U.S. Open.

Schniederjans was happy for his friend, while at the same time knowing his best golf can compete with Spieth and the rest of the new wave of young stars on the PGA Tour.

“Competing against him as a junior golfer and college golfer, you kind of know that you belong right there with him,” Schniederjans said of Spieth. “At least you’re going to do everything you can to do that.”

In some ways, Schniederjans is an anomaly. So often, college players abandon their amateur careers when their game is at its absolute best to chase the professional career, then are unable to continue that success and fail to meet unrealistically high expectations.

Schniederjans, though, went through some tribulations in the last year that have strengthened his mental resolve.

“It’s just a testament to how great the NCAA golf is now and how difficult they set up the golf courses,” he said. “You’re certainly more prepared for this, I think, than ever before. I intend to be very competitive at the next level as I was in junior golf and amateur golf. There’s a lot of great players up here. … I know that if I play to my capability, that I’ll be competitive at any level. I’m excited just to try to do that.”

Schniederjans can play in three more PGA Tour events on sponsor’s exemptions between now and the end of August, then is eligible for seven more exemptions when the new tour season begins in October. To gain full-time eligibility on the tour, he’ll need to perform exceptionally well in those events, or advance from the Tour. If he’s unable to do those, he’ll have to attend qualifying school.

“I’m comfortable with who I am and how I feel about myself,” he said. “I do the best I can and certainly have always been competitive and just believe.”

Adam Svensson, one of six Canadians to make the cut, played a solid round of 5-under 67 Saturday … all by himself.

Because an odd number of players made the cut, Svensson was the first of 91 players to tee off at 7 a.m.

“It was a little bit weird the first couple of holes,” he said. “But I kind of got used to it. Had a good rhythm all day and got off to a pretty good start, so I was pretty happy.”

Svensson took advantage of soft conditions early in the morning with birdies on three of his first four holes, and moved up 46 spots on the leader board into a tie for 26th.

Because so many players made the cut, there was another trimming of the field after Saturday’s round, down to the top 70 and ties, which means 13 players won’t tee it up Sunday. Included in that group is J.B. Holmes, the No. 16-ranked player in the world.

Those players who made the 36-hole cut, but not the 54-hole cut, are given a designation of “MDF” – made cut/did not finish – and still receive FedEx Cup points and prize money.