Rallying from an early four-hole deficit and a two-hole difference after the first 18 holes, Georgia Tech senior Andy Ogletree won the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship Sunday with a 2 and 1 victory over Vanderbilt senior John Augenstein at the Pinehurst Resort.
Ogletree, ranked No. 120 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, became the third Georgia Tech player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Bobby Jones, who won five of them (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1930) and Matt Kuchar, who won following his freshman year in 1997. He also became the first Mississippi native ever to win the U.S. Amateur.
The victory gives Ogletree a number of entries into major events, not the least of which is a spot on the United States team for the 2019 Walker Cup, which begins Sept. 7 at Royal Liverpool in England. He will be the first Georgia Tech player to compete in the Walker Cup since Cameron Tringale, a current PGA Tour pro, in 2009.
He also earns an exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot, whether he remains an amateur or becomes a professional, and invitations to the 2020 Open Championship, conducted by the R&A and a likely invitation to the 2020 Masters. So long as he remains an amateur, he is exempt into the next 10 U.S. Amateur championships.
The No. 20 seed fell behind four holes after the first five in the morning round at Pinehurst No. 4 when Augenstein, seeded 18th, recorded a par on the second hole and birdied 3, 4 and 5 in succession. Ogletree trailed again by four after 11, but began his battle back by winning the next two holes, and he birdied the 18th hole to finish the morning round two down.
“To be honest, I didn’t play that bad (in the morning),” Ogletree said after the match. “John just got off to a great start. He’s a great player. I knew it was going to be a tough match, and it’s a long day. 36 holes is a lot of golf, and you can’t really beat yourself up over the first six. I really did a good job of staying in it, and I just knew if I kept hitting fairways and greens and keeping myself in position, it would work out.”
Ogletree began the afternoon round with a birdie at the first hole of Pinehurst No 2, getting within one hole. Augenstein, the No. 38-ranked amateur in the world, twice built his lead back to two holes, but the Tech senior continued to battle, making pars at the 25th hole and the 29th hole to get back within one and keeping the pressure on the Owensboro, Ky., native with precise approach shots.
He finally pulled even with a birdie at the 31st hole, a short par-4 (319 yards) on which he hit the middle of the fairway with a 5-iron while Augenstein went with driver and left his ball in a greenside bunker. He then took the lead with a par at the 32nd hole. The two All-Americans halved the 33rd and 34th holes, but Ogletree clinched the match at the 35th hole, a par-3, with a par when Augenstein three-putted for a 5.
“I didn’t feel anything different really, just keep going … just trying to keep hitting fairways and keep hitting greens out here, that’s huge, and if you can do that, you’re in pretty good shape,” Ogletree added.
Winner of the Monroe Invitational back in June, Ogletree advanced to match play by tying for 18th place in the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the championship, then beat No. 45 Chandler Phillips, a senior at Texas A&M, 4 and 3 in the opening round Wednesday. Thursday, he defeated No. 52 Maxwell Moldovan of Unionville, Ohio, in 19 holes, in the round of 32 and No. 29 Blake Hathcoat of Fresno, Calif., 5 and 4, in the round of 16. He defeated No. 12 seed Spencer Ralston, 6 and 5, Friday in the quarterfinals, and Mississippi high school junior Cohen Trolio, 3 and 1, in the semifinals.
When asked if he had allowed himself to think about the names of the champions on the Havemeyer Trophy, which include Jones and Kuchar, and that he would be playing in three major championships in 2020, Ogletree said, “Yeah. I think it’s going to take a while to sink in, but it’s unbelievable.”
Tech’s top-ranked player at the end of the spring college season (No. 19), Ogletree qualified for the U.S. Amateur for the fourth time in five years, and last advanced to match play in 2017. He was a second-team All-American and an All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice this spring after posting four top-10 finishes, including a runner-up showing at the ACC Championship.
Ogletree’s Road to the Championship
- Shot 70-72—142 in stroke play to earn the No. 20 seed
- R64: def. No. 45 Chandler Phillips, 4 and 3
- R32: def. No. 52 Maxwell Moldovan, 19 holes
- R16: def. No. 28 Blake Hathcoat, 5 and 4
- QF: def. No. 12 Spencer Ralston, 6 and 5
- SF: def. No. 57 Cohen Trolio, 3 and 1
- Finals: def. No. 18 John Augenstein, 2 and 1