Q&A With U.S. Am Champion Andy Ogletree

Andy Ogletree and his caddie pose with The Havemeyer Trophy after winning the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Photo –  USGA/Chris Keane

Here is the post-round press conference transcript after Andy Ogletree won the U.S. Amateur championship.

THE MODERATOR: Quite a gritty performance by you. You were down four, you fought back, you got the lead, and then you held off somebody who’s a real competitor. Not just winning the U.S.Amateur but how you won it has got to be something you’re very proud of.
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, there’s no doubt. I showed a lot of resilience out there and never gave up. Kept telling myself I’m going to win this tournament, and just always believed that. I mean, even that I was, what, four down through 6, but I just kept telling myself, it’s hard to keep that kind of golf that he was playing up, and just told myself keep hitting fairways, keep hitting greens, and it will eventually go your way. I mean, I shot 67 the opening 18 and was 2‑down.

That’s some pretty incredible golf out there by John. He shot 5‑under on course 4, which was the course record. That’s pretty good. It’s hard to keep that up, and I made two birdies closing the first 18 holes, which was huge. It kind of got the momentum going to lunch break, and felt really good the whole lunch break, wasn’t really nervous or anything.

Stuck to my game plan, missed a few fairways early on. I’m sure you guys noticed I kept hitting it right, but figured it out, and yeah, I mean, I hit some really good shots down the stretch, and my iron play was incredible all day, and just kept putting the pressure on John, and eventually it worked out for me.

THE MODERATOR: The critical value rating of the birdies on 18 of the morning round and the first hole of the second 18‑‑
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, that was huge.
THE MODERATOR: How big was that?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, the whole bunch I was just ready to go and ready to get back out there and try to make another birdie. I hit it right on 1. I did that like four matches in a row, I hit it in that right junk. So I was pretty familiar with that area. I think I had four divots about five feet apart. My 9‑iron from the stuff on 1 was pretty good. Had a good look, it was straight up the hill, broke a little left, and made that one. I thought I was going to‑‑ I thought I might have a chance to catch him on, what was it, 3, but he got up‑and‑down from the bunker and got back to 2‑up, and finally got him on 15.
Yeah, long day. I’m sure I’ll look back on it, but I learned a lot about myself and know that I can do it at the highest level. So that’s pretty cool.

Andy Ogletree and caddie Devin Stanton celebrate the championship. Photo – USGA/Chris Keane

Q. What did Coach have to say to you when you embraced him there on the green?
ANDY OGLETREE: He just screamed, let’s go, mate. I think my ears are still ringing. No, I’m sure we’ll have a lot of talks today, and I owe a lot to him, what he’s taught me and given me the ability to do at Georgia Tech, and given me tons of resources to do nothing but get better at every aspect of life. I know a lot to him, and he’s a great coach.

Q. Nine months ago, where would your bunker shot have ended up on 16? 
ANDY OGLETREE: Either long or short (laughing). It wouldn’t have been where it was probably. I don’t know. But yeah, I mean, it’s definitely improved a lot. I felt pretty confident over that bunker shot. I don’t think I would have nine months ago. I knew once I made that putt, I had a pretty good chance because I’m sure John was thinking he’s going to tie it up there, and just mentally that’s hard to take when someone does what you think they want. That was huge.

Q. One of the critical moments on 13, you lay up, then spin a wedge in there really close. John goes for the green, does not work out for him. What did you kind of make of that moment?
ANDY OGLETREE: I was actually talking about this earlier. I don’t think John made a wrong decision, and I don’t think I made a right decision. I think whatever club you feel comfortable with is the right club there. Even though John didn’t make birdie, he still had a good look. It wasn’t like he was just screwed in the bunker. He hit it to, what, 10 feet, and had a straight uphill straight putt.
I don’t think that was a bad decision by him. I think that was pretty gutsy, and if he pulls it off, it could have gone the other way.
No, I was really proud of that wedge shot, put a lot of pressure on, and yeah, that definitely turned the match.

Q. Have you always been kind of this unflappable and calm and composed on the golf course, or is it something you’ve had to work at?
ANDY OGLETREE: I’ve always been pretty calm. My dad would take me off the golf course if I acted up as a junior player. Yeah, I’ve always been pretty even keel. Everyone on the team always says, Andy’s blood pressure has got to be negative, but I’m always just pretty mellow and usually don’t get too nervous.

Q. How do they celebrate this in Little Rock, Mississippi?
ANDY OGLETREE: There’s no telling. I’m sure there’s a lot of adult beverages going down right now.

Q. You said you learned a lot about yourself today; what specifically did you learn? 
ANDY OGLETREE: That I can play at the highest level and perform. Basically just that. I felt like the more nervous I got, the better I hit it. For some people that takes a lot to learn, and it just kind of came with it today. I don’t really know. I didn’t go through training for that. I mean, no one can‑‑ you can’t be put in that situation unless you’ve been there before. You just kind of have to learn on the fly, and it just went my way today, and I learned that I can handle the pressure, I can handle the heat, and I can still perform.

Q. Did you surprise yourself? 
ANDY OGLETREE: Not really.

Q. Just curious, how old were you when you first visited Georgia Tech for an official visit? And also, how much did you know about Mr. Bobby Jones and his record holding that trophy? 
ANDY OGLETREE: To be honest, ninth grade Coach came to Future Masters. I’m sure you guys have heard of Future Masters, the junior tournament, and Coach Heppler and Brennan Webb, who’s now the head coach at Tennessee, came, and they were watching me, and my dad said, why are you guys here, my son is not going to go to Georgia Tech, and he said, come see it. We’re like, all right, we’ll go see it.
So we go see it. I’m just thinking we’re just going to visit. It’s just going to be just another visit to check off the list, and we get out there, learned all the history. I had no idea they even had that many TOUR pros, and I knew nothing about Georgia Tech to be honest with you. Got to campus, it’s nothing like you would ever imagine being in downtown Atlanta. There’s trees. It gets like a rep for a nerdy school, but it’s really not. It’s just like any other college campus.
We have an insane facility that my apartment overlooks it, so I just walk downstairs to practice. We get to play Golf Club of Georgia and East Lake and all these amenities, and there’s no way you can go there and get worse. It’s physically impossible unless you just don’t practice.
I loved Coach, I loved the place, I loved the tradition, how they do things, and didn’t really want to visit anywhere else after I went there. I went to the bookstore after my visit and bought a bunch of shirts, committed about a month later.

Q. Obviously you had a great season the past season, but you talked about the coach, how he helped you. But among your peers, either Luke Schneiderjans or Tyler Strafaci or Noah Norton that push each other, how much did that help you become the player that you are?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I went to Georgia Tech is all the players play together and practice together, live together all four years. I’ve never really had people to push me and never really had players as good as me growing up to play with, and so it’s been huge. I mean, Noah Norton is probably the best putter I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you guys have probably heard about his putting. But he shared some drills with me. After Coach and I had our meeting, it’s like, Noah, what do you do for your putting. I want to putt like Noah. So that was always a running joke, putt like Noah.
Yeah, he showed me the drills that he does, and I took some of the stuff that he said and left some of the stuff that he said because he’s pretty technical with it. I’m not very technical. But yeah, we all help each other. I’ve gotten a lot of confidence from guys like Luke and Ty, just because Ty has played big events and Luke is just naturally pretty confident. So I’ve lived with those guys for three years, and we’ve rubbed off on each other a lot, and we’ve all gotten a lot better, so it’s been good.

Q. Talking about maybe how strength training at Georgia Tech, how has your body composition changed since you’ve been there, what kind of training, and how much do you think that has impacted your game?
ANDY OGLETREE: When I got there, I weighed 145 pounds. I’ve gained about 33 pounds. So I look like a different human. Luke actually sent me a picture the other day of us freshman year, and we just laughed.
But my swing is not really changed that much to be honest. You would think it would, with all that weight and size, but it still looks kind of the same. I still drop it in a little bit at the top and still a little steep. Yeah, a lot has changed but a lot hasn’t. I think it’s helped me a lot just mentally more than physically, getting up at 5:45 and going to work and just being more disciplined with what you eat, what time you go to bed, waking up early, learning how to do hard stuff, pushing through workouts. I think that definitely helped me today, just never really getting discouraged, knowing that I can do it, and yeah, I think workouts helped a lot. We have a great trainer, Steve Tamborra. So it’s awesome.

Q. You have a likely tee time with one Tiger Woods at Augusta National about eight months from now. How does that feel? 
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, I think I’ve watched every YouTube video ever of Tiger, so that’s pretty cool. I can’t imagine what that first tee shot will feel like. I’m sure I’ll be way more nervous than I was here. So yeah, that’ll be cool. I don’t even know what to say.

Q. How do you think your upbringing helped mold you as a person and a player?
ANDY OGLETREE: Just being humble and being thankful for everything you’re given definitely helps me on and off the course. Yeah, I can’t say enough to my parents and friends back home, just the way they raised me and the way they made me to be, and just, yeah, I’ll never be able to thank them enough. But I think it definitely helps to have a good upbringing and be, I guess, held in line by your parents.
I mean, I can remember breaking a golf club when I was younger, and my dad was‑‑ that’s the maddest I’ve ever seen him, I think, and he made me work to buy a new shaft and I had to play a tournament without a 56‑degree and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think all of those things definitely help, and it kind of puts into perspective that golf is sometimes not that big a deal. I mean, you could be doing a lot worse stuff than playing Pinehurst No.2 and hitting a bad shot, so it’s pretty cool.

Q. As a follow‑up, was it ever a hindrance to be from such a small town?
ANDY OGLETREE: I don’t think so. I mean, besides driving to a golf course, I think there’s a lot of positives to a small town. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone is like family. I went to high school in Union, Mississippi. We keep saying Little Rock, but Union, Little Rock, same thing. It’s a big community. And everyone just kind of pulls for everyone else.
I went to school with the same kids K through 12. I have a huge close friend group back home. We all used to hang out all the time, and I’m sure they wish they could have been here. But unfortunately school is starting back, so everyone is going to school and stuff.
I think there are a lot of positives to small town living.

Q. One of the things that we wanted to know from you, speaking of small hometown, what’s on that seafood buffet at the gas station that’s so good?
ANDY OGLETREE: Do you want me to answer that?

Q. Yes, absolutely. 
ANDY OGLETREE: I like the fried catfish, and they have boiled shrimp, just normal seafood. I guess catfish isn’t seafood. Fried fish, same thing.

Q. What’s this place called?
ANDY OGLETREE: Chesney’s Grocery.

Q. I apologize if you have addressed this before this week; Coach Devin Stanton, did he have prior experience working with you before as a caddie, and how much did he help you? How much was he helpful to you this week? 
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, I mean, Devin is a beast. I think everyone watching probably knows that we had a great time out there. I don’t think you ever saw an ounce of stress on either one of our faces because we just kept cracking jokes and laughing all day.
But yeah, he does a great job of keeping me loose. The only time he’s caddied for me was U.S. Am qualifier. He just got the job about a month ago as our assistant coach, and he had been our assistant strength and conditioning coach for the last couple years, and he caddied for Anders Albertson on TOUR so I knew he had some caddie experience. I said, Devin, do you want to caddie for me in the U.S. Am, and he’s like, Yeah, sure. And I was like, Oh, by the way, I have a qualifier next week, do you want to caddie in that, too? So it worked out, and we played great in the qualifier, and yeah, just kept it rolling.

Q. Coming into this week, what did you think of your chances of making the Walker Cup were?
ANDY OGLETREE: I didn’t even think once about the Walker Cup team to be honest with you. Yeah, so I guess‑‑ I don’t know if that means zero or close to that‑‑

Q. So that means you didn’t think you had a chance or it didn’t mean much to you?
ANDY OGLETREE: No, it definitely means a lot now, but it didn’t cross my mind of‑‑ getting into the Masters didn’t cross my mind, getting into the U.S.Open didn’t cross my mind. I just wanted to play as good as I can. When I got here, I wasn’t even hitting it good. I guess you could say I didn’t think I had a chance when I got here, but after Saturday afternoon, I thought I did because my swing felt good again.

Q. What do you consider the turning point in today’s match after being down early? Was there a shot you made where you felt like the swing is coming back together? 
ANDY OGLETREE: Not swing coming back together, but the best shot of the day was 8. I was in the trees. I hit this low cut to like 20 feet, and perfect putt, putter raised and the crowd kind of got behind me from then. I birdied 8, 9, then won 12, 13, and yeah, 18. Yeah, I think that shot out of the trees gave me a lot of momentum and got the crowd going.

Q. The shot on 13, you’ve talked about it already, what was the number on the second shot and the club you hit?
ANDY OGLETREE: It was 104 yards but it was 108 with elevation, and it was a little downwind off the right, so I hit a 58‑degree, and I knew‑‑ Devin and I looked at the yardage book, and I knew that slope was back there, so if it landed pin high, it wasn’t going to rip back, but if it landed long it was going to spin back. So either way I knew it was going to be close if I could get it on line, and it landed on the back slope and came back perfect. I think it was pretty close to going in by the way everybody reacted.

Q. Just as a quick clarification, in the morning round, I guess it was the 12th hole, you had a short putt and seemed like there was some‑‑
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, John was trying to get my attention to tell me it was good, but the crowd was going crazy, and I couldn’t hear him, and I picked it up and he said his intention was for me to get that hole, so the official said, yeah, it’s good.



















About the Author

Hello and Welcome to The Georgia Golfer I'm Stan Awtrey, the writer and administrator for this site. I love to watch and play, although my 19 handicap index would indicate that I'm better at watching. I've played more than 200 different courses over the years, including Augusta National (twice).