Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree Stays Patient Despite Early Deficit, Rallies to Overcome John Augenstein, 2 and 1
When he went 4 down to John Augenstein after just five holes of the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship, Andy Ogletree would have had plenty of reasons to doubt his chances of capturing the Havemeyer Trophy, not the least of which might have been a tweet he saw a day earlier.
“I know John is a competitor. A lot of people say he’s a bulldog. But I just saw a tweet that said John is the only one with credentials here,” said Ogletree after the two players had posted semifinal wins to set up their final match. “That kind of got me motivated and ready to go.”
Motivated or not, Ogletree lost the second through fifth holes of the morning 18 on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 4, the first with a bogey and the last three to Augenstein birdies. But Ogletree didn’t panic, didn’t take unnecessary gambles, and he chipped away at the deficit, reducing it to one hole after he won the first hole of the afternoon round on Pinehurst’s renowned Course No. 2.
“I showed a lot of resilience out there and never gave up,” said Ogletree, who was playing in his fifth USGA championship. “I kept telling myself I’m going to win this championship, and just always believed that.”
Ogletree captured four of the last seven holes to seal a 2-and-1 victory. His 4-hole deficit is believed to be the fourth-largest overcome by a champion. Tiger Woods was 6 down through 13 holes against Trip Kuehne in 1994, while Woods (1996) and Labron Harris (1962) were both 5 down after the morning round.
The turning point may have been the 319-yard, par-4 31st hole. Ogletree played conservatively, laying back with an iron, while Augenstein hit driver into the left greenside bunker. Ogletree spun a sand wedge back to within 3 feet. Augenstein blasted his bunker shot to 8 feet, but his putt lipped out. When Ogletree made birdie, the match was square for the first time since the opening hole.
Ogletree took his first lead of the match when Augenstein, 21, of Owensboro, Ky., and a senior at Vanderbilt, failed to get up and down from the right greenside bunker on the 32nd hole.
After both players parred the par-3 33rd, it appeared as though Augenstein might square the match at the 34th when Ogletree hit his approach into the left greenside bunker. But the No. 120 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) recovered and calmly rolled in a 10-foot par putt to maintain his 1-up advantage.
“I felt pretty confident over that bunker shot,” said Ogletree. “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 mentally that's hard to recover from.”
Both players hit their tee shots within 20 feet on the 181-yard, par-3 35th. The match seemed likely to extend to the 36th hole, but Augenstein conceded his opponent’s 3-foot par putt after he knocked his birdie putt 12 feet past the hole and three-putted.
“I played really well on No. 4 this morning,” said Augenstein, No. 38 in the WAGR, who shot a 5-under 65 with match-play concessions. “He snagged that putt on No. 18, which kind of flipped the momentum a little bit.”
Ogletree, 21, of Little Rock, Miss., and a senior at Georgia Tech, made just two bogeys over 35 holes, equaling the best performance since hole-by-hole scoring was charted beginning in 2008. Danny Lee, the 2008 champion, and Doug Ghim, the 2017 runner-up, also made just two bogeys.
“I fought my hardest,” said Augenstein. “But in the end, I didn't make enough putts or hit enough great shots out there to beat him. He was super solid and really made no mistakes.”
The players took vastly different paths to the championship match. Augenstein registered 15 consecutive pars in his semifinal against William Holcomb V before a conceded birdie on the 16th closed out the Texas native, 3 and 2. It was the first bogey-free performance in a U.S. Amateur semifinal since at least 2008.
Ogletree played his 17 holes in 7 over par with the usual match-play concessions, but took advantage of several miscues by Cohen Trolio to win, 3 and 1. Ogletree’s score was the highest in relation to par for a semifinal winner in at least the last 11 years, as Trolio could not summon the form that made him the youngest U.S. Amateur semifinalist in at least a quarter century.
|“All the hard work that I’ve put in over the years, it’s all kind of come together, and it’s unbelievable.” – Andy Ogletree|
|Andy Ogletree trailed during 29 of the 35 holes in the championship match, equaling the number of holes Steven Fox trailed during his 37-hole victory over Michael Weaver in 2012 at Cherry Hills Country Club.|
|Ogletree is the first U.S. Amateur champion from Mississippi. The last player from Mississippi to win a USGA championship was Steve Wilson (2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur).|
|Ogletree is the third U.S. Amateur champion who attended Georgia Tech, joining Matt Kuchar (1997) and Bob Jones (five-time champion).|
|The 36-hole final on Pinehurst’s Course No. 4 (morning) and Course No. 2 (afternoon) marked the first time the final was played on two courses.|
|John Augenstein trailed for just seven holes in his six matches – all but one of them in the final against Andy Ogletree.|
|“It has less than 2,000 people, so it’s not even considered a city. But it does have a streetlight. We have a little gas station that has a seafood buffet on Friday night. The food is incredible.” – Andy Ogletree, with a laugh, on his hometown, Little Rock, Miss.|