John Augenstein is heating up at the right time for Vanderbilt
SUGAR GROVE, IL (May 28, 2017) - John Augenstein had squandered a hot start.
The Vanderbilt freshman had begun his third round at the NCAA Championship birdie-birdie, but he’d fallen flat.
A bogey at the par-4 fourth was followed by a double bogey at the par-3 fifth. Augenstein had airmailed the green with an 8-iron and flubbed his ensuing chip 3 feet in front of him before getting on the green and two-putting.
But there was no fear of a spiral. This up-and-down start is classic Augenstein.
“Two holes later, he’s hitting a 6-iron into a par 5 and stripes it right over the flagstick,” said Dusty Smith, Vanderbilt’s assistant coach.
In fact, Augenstein hit it to 4 feet for birdie at the par-4 sixth, made another at the seventh and stuffed it inside 5 feet at the par-4 ninth for three birdies in four holes.
Augenstein would finish the day with a seven-birdie 3-under 69, leaping 26 spots into a tie for 24th at 3 under.
“I definitely could have taken it pretty low today,” said Augenstein, ranked 75th in the country.
Regardless, his strong play helped jump Vanderbilt three spots and into the overall lead at Rich Harvest Farms. The third-ranked Commodores posted an 8-under 280 in Round 3 and own a one-shot lead at 18 under.
This certainly isn’t an unfamiliar place for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores were the 54-hole leaders at last year’s NCAA Championship, and once the third round is officially over later Sunday they will have repeated that feat. Vanderbilt has reached match play each of the last two years at NCAAs, losing in the quarterfinals both times.
As Vanderbilt closes in on a third straight appearance, attitude is paramount.
The key to Sunday’s 280, tied for the round of the day? Vanderbilt didn’t have to get up well before the crack of dawn like it had the previous day to complete Round 1.
“We just said, ‘Guys, we’ve got the good draw. Let’s just be excited going to the first tee box,’ ” said Scott Limbaugh, Vanderbilt’s head coach.
Aside from Augenstein, the Commodores didn’t jump on Rich Harvest Farms early Sunday. But they eventually got there.
Senior Matthias Schwab posted a bogey-free 70 to move into a tie for second at 9 under. Sophomore Patrick Martin posted 72.
The other counting score was Theo Humphrey, a junior who faced a 50-footer for eagle at the par-5 18th. The first part of the putt was uphill breaking right, with the last 20 feet shifting to severely downhill and moving left.
Humphrey had missed a number of putts inside 10 feet Sunday, yet he stepped up, aimed a little right of the hole and drained the snake.
“It makes the day feel a lot better,” said Humphrey, who posted 3-under 69 to move to T-21 at 4 under.
But back to Augenstein, who could be a bear if Vanderbilt indeed makes match play.
The freshman won all three of his matches at the SEC Championship, earning Vanderbilt’s clinching point in the semifinals and finals.
When he’s hot, he’s almost unstoppable. Augenstein has earned the nickname “Johnny Golf” at Vanderbilt, but there’s a more recent moniker that has taken form.
Smith coined the nickname “Flash” for Augenstein (it also comes in the “Johnny Flash” variety). The freshman has a knack for fluctuations, going from cold to hot in his play and negative to positive in his attitude in an instant.
In essence, his game and attitude can be all over the place.
“See him here, see him there, he’s just kind of all around,” Limbaugh said, with a laugh.
But it’s been beneficial for Augenstein. Smith walked all 18 holes Sunday with Augenstein, as the assistant coach has done nearly every round this spring, and knew not to panic about that bogey-double bogey stretch.
If Flash can start the round birdie-birdie, the red numbers aren’t going to stop.
“The thing about John is usually when he gets off to good starts, he’s going to be making birdies all day,” Smith said.
Flash has found his spark, and Vanderbilt may just be getting started.
|Scottie Scheffler of the University of Texas |
Scottie Scheffler Leads By Two in the NCAA Individual Championship
Scottie Scheffler was a two-sport athlete at Highland Park High School in Dallas. He won three straight state individual titles as a member of the golf team, joining Jordan Spieth as the only Texans to accomplish the rare three-peat. He also played basketball for the Fighting Scots, though his highlights were much fewer and farther between.
“I came off the bench,” Scheffler said. “No game-winning shots. Carry the water. Warm the bench.”
It’s no wonder Scheffler chose golf. Now a junior at the University of Texas, Scheffler plays a major role for the Longhorns. And after a third straight 4-under 68 at Rich Harvest Farms on Sunday, he holds the individual lead at the NCAA Championship. (Texas is 5 under as a team and just four shots out of eighth place.)
Scheffler is 10 under with no bogeys in three trips around Rich Harvest Farms’ four par 5s. He’s made just two bogeys per round, a product of hard work with swing coach Randy Smith to eliminate the “big miss.”
Oh, and he’s playing with confidence, which is seemingly nothing new for Scheffler.
“He’s not overwhelmed by the magnitude of what this means,” Texas head coach John Fields said. “… He certainly has a belief in himself that he can compete at a really high level.”
Scheffler certainly always seems to show up in big events. He won the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur, captured the Big 12 title as a freshman, defeated Oregon’s Aaron Wise in the NCAA final a year ago to nearly lead Texas to its second NCAA title in four years, and qualified for last year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont and shot an opening 69, among a long list of other accomplishments.
As if he’s ever been scared of the moment, Scheffler shook his head.
“Being afraid? I don’t really think so,” Scheffler said. “There’s nothing really to be afraid of. I’m not really in control of what happens in the end. All I can do is control what I can control.”
What Scheffler couldn’t control was his body. When he was 13 years old, he was 5 feet, 2 inches, and weighed about 100 pounds. He grew nearly a foot in high school, and now less than a month from his 21st birthday, Scheffler is 6 feet, 3 inches, and nearly 210 pounds.
“It was very challenging,” Scheffler said. “Definitely my swing has changed a lot.”
The growth spurt also put a lot of stress on his body, particularly his lower back. It’s never been a serious issue, but Scheffler has had to manage it, making sure he’s properly stretching before rounds.
He’s also had to manage his time well. Scheffler isn’t big on social media; he just doesn’t have time. He’s in the McCombs School of Business, and this spring he became a member of the Texas Cowboys, a men’s service organization on campus.
“What people know us for is we’re the guys who shoot off the cannon at the football games,” Scheffler said.
So next fall, expect to see Scheffler all dressed up in cowboy gear on the sidelines at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, helping his fellow Cowboys fire Smokey the Cannon. If he keeps up his play Monday in Sugar Grove, expect to see the junior at midfield accepting his NCAA individual champion ring, as well.