PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Andy Ogletree took a peek at the bracket before the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals and made a prediction to his caddie: He would face John Augenstein in the final.
He was right.
Augenstein beat William Holcomb V 3 and 2 in one semifinal Saturday, and Ogletree topped teenager and fellow Mississippian Cohen Trolio 3 and 1 in the other.
“I just thought we were the best two players left, the most experienced,” Ogletree said about his prediction.
They will meet Sunday in a 36-hole final split over two courses, starting on Pinehurst’s renovated No. 4 course and finishing at No. 2 — the site of three men’s U.S. Opens and the 2008 U.S. Amateur.
Andy Ogletree (L) Thursday at U.S. Amateur in Pinehurst (Photo by Sandhills Sentinel Sports Reporter John Patota).
And for all the buzz about the young players in the field — including the 17-year-old Trolio — both finalists are 21-year-old college seniors with match-play experience.
“I just kind of trusted that the golf would take care of itself,” Ogletree said. “You can’t really think a match ahead. You have to take one match at a time and I’ve done a really good job of that. One shot at a time, one match at a time. I actually looked at the brackets and told (caddie Devin Stanton) I think we’ll be playing John. It’s there, and we’re ready.”
Augenstein — from Owensboro, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt — was the highest-ranked of the four semifinalists, and at No. 38 in the world amateur ranking, the only one in the top 100.
“I’ve been through this match-play thing too many times to assume that somebody’s going to make it just because of their name,” Augenstein said. “Teams get beat in college (by opponents) that aren’t as good, and players get beat all the time (by opponents) that aren’t as good. … People get beat in match play.”
He made par on his first 15 holes, and after briefly trailing for the first time in five rounds of match play, went 2 up with a par on the par-4 14th and ended it with a birdie on the 16th.
That earned him a spot opposite Ogletree, the Georgia Tech player from Little Rock, Mississippi, who ended Trolio’s bid to become the youngest finalist in U.S. Amateur history.
Ogletree won the first hole and never trailed after that, but his lead was never larger than 2 up until the end, and Trolio closed within a hole with his par on 14. After they halved No. 15, Ogletree won the 16th with a par to Trolio’s double bogey and wrapped it up with a birdie — just his second of the day — on the par-3 17th.
Playing nine days after his 17th birthday, Trolio would have eclipsed Sung Yoon Kim — who was 17 years, 3 months, 5 days when he reached the championship match 20 years ago. Trolio, from West Point, Mississippi, was the only player in the match-play field of 64 without a world amateur ranking because he has not played in an event that would yield a ranking during the last two years.
“It proves to everybody else that I can compete here, Trolio said, “and also it proves to me, more than anybody else, that I have what it takes to compete.”
Augenstein beat two opponents in the top 10 of the amateur ranking in the early rounds, and neither he nor Trolio had trailed during four rounds of match play — until the semifinals, when both fell behind early in their matches.
Unlike Trolio, Augenstein regained the lead. He went ahead for good late on the front nine, breaking a tie by winning Nos. 6 and 7 and moving 2 up on Holcomb, a Texan and 21-year-old senior at Sam Houston State.
“It hasn’t really sunk in that it’s over,” Holcomb said. “I don’t even think it’s sunk in that I got as far as I did.”
Feature photo: John Augenstein Thursday at U.S. Amateur in Pinehust (Photo by Sandhills Sentinel Sports Reporter John Patota.
Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.