Mississippi’s Ogletree claims state’s first U.S. Amateur title

Published 6:11 am Monday, August 19, 2019

Andy Ogletree was in danger of being blown out of the U.S. Amateur final. He kept his poise — and his confidence — and came back to win.
Ogletree won the U.S. Amateur on Sunday, rallying to beat John Augenstein 2 and 1.

“Everyone on (his Georgia Tech) team says Andy’s blood pressure’s got to be negative,” Ogletree quipped.

Ogletree is from the small community of Little Rock, Mississippi, south of Philadelphia.

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Ogletree was 4 down early in the morning round of the 36-hole final at Pinehurst’s renovated No. 4, but won four of the final seven holes on the No. 2 course to claim the championship matchup of 21-year-old college seniors.

“I showed a lot of resilience out there and never gave up,” Ogletree said. “Kept telling myself I’m going to win this tournament and always believed that. Even when I was 4 down through six (holes), I just kept telling myself … keep hitting fairways, keep hitting greens and it’ll eventually go your way.”

The Mississippian became the third Georgia Tech player to win the Amateur, joining 1997 winner Matt Kuchar and five-time champion Bobby Jones.

He ended it on the 17th, sticking his tee shot on the par-3 hole on the green and two-putting for par. Augenstein placed his tee shot on the left fringe and four-putted for a double bogey.

“I fought my hardest, but in the end, I didn’t make enough putts or hit enough great shots to beat him,” Augenstein said. “He was really super solid and made no mistakes.”

Augenstein, from Kentucky, was the first Vanderbilt player to reach the final since Luke List in 2004. At No. 38 in the world amateur ranking, he was the highest-ranked player to reach the semifinals and the only one in the top 100.

Ogletree kept himself within striking distance and was never worse than 2 down during the afternoon round. He squared the match on the 13th hole after landing his second shot within 5 feet of the flagstick and tapping in for a birdie, then took the lead on the 14th after Augenstein pushed a short par putt wide left.

“I just kept putting the pressure on John,” Ogletree said, “and it worked out for me.”

This was the first time the U.S. Amateur’s final was split over two courses, finishing at No. 2, which has become a regular USGA championship host. Overlooking the 18th green is a statue of the late Payne Stewart marking his victory in the 1999 U.S. Open with a fist-pump.

During match play, neither of these players saw it very often.

Only one of Ogletree’s matches reached the 18th while three ended on the 15th hole or earlier. For Augenstein, four of his first five matches were wrapped up by the 16th, and — until the final four holes of the final — the only time he trailed came on the third hole of his semifinal match with William Holcomb V. Holcomb’s 1-up lead was gone a hole later.

Early on, it looked as though this was Augenstein’s match to lose. He went ahead 4 up during his hot start that included winning four straight holes and reeling off three birdies in a row on Nos. 3-5. Ogletree clawed back, finished the morning round at 2 down to begin his comeback.

“I got off to the start that you always want to get off to on one of these days,” Augenstein said. “It’s 36 holes. If I was in his position, I’d be thinking the same thing — there was a lot of golf left. I wasn’t at all complacent about thinking I’ve got this thing won through six holes.”