It’s September, and the much-anticipated start of our nation’s golf championship is set to tee off from Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaronick, New York, a 42 minute train ride from the City. Of the 156 players that qualified, only 13 are amateurs.
In the 120 year history of the event, only five amateurs have gone on to win, the last in 1933.
But don’t tell that to Andy Ogletree, John Augentstein, Ricky Castillo or John Pak.
: Andy Ogletree hugs his caddie on the 17th green of Pinehurst No. 2 after winning the 2019 U.S. Amateur in Pinehurst. By virtue of his win, he qualified to play on the 2020 U.S. Open.
Normally, professionals and amateurs with a handicap index of 1.4 or lower can play their way into the field, either by playing in qualifying events held across the world or by earning exemptions based on rankings or tournament finishes.
We don’t have to tell you, this is not a normal year. Heck, the United States Golf Association was thinking of canceling it.
Because of COVID-19, the USGA suspended all qualifying events. Instead, every player that made the field was considered exempt. Past winners, runner-ups and world rankings – you get the idea.
Now back to the amateurs.
Georgia Tech senior Andy Ogletree qualified for the U.S. Open field by virtue of his win at the 2019 U.S. Open in Pinehurst. What did Ogletree do after his win in Pinehurst? He only made the Walker Cup team and traveled to the United Kindom to win the cup against strong field players from Great Britain and Ireland.
And how about John Augenstein? Remember, he finished 2nd the U.S. Am in Pinehurst. Yup, he’s in the U.S. Open too.
Ricky Castillo, with his father on the bag, plays Pinehurst No. 2 during the 2019 U.S. Amateur.
So is University of Florida freshman All-American, Ricky Castillo. He made it in the field by being No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Castillo did not have a great showing in Pinehurst last summer but loved playing Pinehurst No. 2.
Then there is John Pak. The Florida State All-American is ranked 7th world ranking, and like Ogletree and Augenstein, helped the U.S. win the Walker Cup a year ago. Pak made it to the Round of 32 in the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2.
John Pak, playing Pinehurst No. 2 during the 2019 U.S. Amateur. Pak made it to the Round of 32 before falling to the eventual runner-up, John Augenstein.
To see photos of the 2019 U.S. Amateur in Pinehurst, visit https://bit.ly/35MOf9S.
Feature photo: John Augenstein plays a shot on Pinehurst No.2 during the Finals of the 2019 U.S. Amateur held in Pinehurst, N.C. Augenstein will make his first appearance in the U.S. Open this week.
~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.