Michael Garretson, Ollie Schniederjans and Cameron Simmons will be part of an 87-man field when the first round of the Dogwood gets under way today at Druid Hills Golf Club. The four-round tournament, which includes a cut after Thursday’s play, will end with a champion crowned Saturday.
Garretson, who recently completed his freshman season at South Alabama, was the last of the former Hoyas to make the field. He was led Monday’s qualifying tournament and advanced to the main draw with a 64.
Facing the challenges of duplicating his 8-under qualifying round, will start on the No. 1 tee at 10:06 a.m. alongside LSU’s Stewart Jolly and Joel Dahlenburg, who just finished his senior season at Flagler College.
“It boosted my confidence a bunch. No one else shot that well,” Garretson said of the qualifying round. “I got a head-start over everyone else and knew what people shot numbers out here. I just need to got out and play well. I just need to keep on driving well and keep it in play.”
Keeping the ball in play was what solidified his round Monday. Garretson, who maintained a 74.6 stroke average at South Alabama, made green on all 18 holes. He ended his round with a chip-in for eagle on No. 18 — a 579-yard par-5 — and shot 32 on both sides of the course.
To maintain scores in the 60s, Garretson said he will have to continue to hit well off the tee, be consistent with his irons and wedges and not put himself in jeopardy of three-putting.
Schniederjans knows just how important putting is at Druid Hills after missing a few key puts in last year’s Dogwood, ultimately leading to a 20th-place showing. After playing a practice round Tuesday, the rising Georgia Tech sophomore noticed that the fairways were firm, and that the greens are soft, which means he will attempt to attack the green below the pin.
“I’m going to have to play smart and putt well,” said Schniederjans, who will tee off from the first tee at 8:54 a.m., alongside Georgia Tech teammate Richy Werenski and former Yellow Jacket Carlton Forrester.
Simmons, a rising senior at Akron, has made strides since he missed the cut at last year’s Dogwood. After changing swing coaches recently to improve his driver, he said his drives are more consistent and he has more ball flight.
The ability to hit the fairways consistently off the tee will be key to Simmons’ success this week.
“The key to this course is making the putts,” he said. “I have to put the ball in the fairway and make some putts. If you hit good drives, hit your wedges and putt well, you’re going to be in good shape.”
Simmons will tee off from the 10th hole at 9:44 a.m. His playing partners are Arizona golf coach Rick LaRose and Druid Hills member John Davis.
The Dogwood Invitational, first held in 1941, is one of the nation’s most prestigious amateur tournaments. Past champions include noted Georgia amateur Tommy Barnes, a five-time winner, and recently crowned U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
This year’s tournament includes a large number of current and past collegiate standouts, including six from Georgia Tech and four from Georgia.