John Augenstein grew up vacationing on Hilton Head Island, where his uncle owned a seafood restaurant for 25 years, but that’s only part of the reason the Vanderbilt junior feels right at home at Berkeley Hall Club.
The golf course seems to suit him, too.
Augenstein posted a 3-under-par 68 on Saturday in the third round of the 19th annual Players Amateur, giving him a two-shot advantage over Florida’s Andy Zhang heading into Sunday’s final round. Ohio State’s Will Grimmer and New Zealander Daniel Hillier are tied for third at 9-under, and defending champion Philip Knowles is lurking five shots back.
They’ll all have a tough time chasing down Augenstein if he keeps playing the way he has on Berkeley Hall’s North Course. In his seven rounds here the past two years, Augenstein has shot 69 or better six times.
“I love this golf course,” he said. “I haven’t necessarily played great yet, but I’ve always kept the ball in front of me, and I’ve been able to score when I’ve needed to.”
Augenstein has been able to leave his driver in the bag most of the time, relying on his 3-wood and 2-iron to find the fairway off the tee and get a wedge in his hands. Then it’s just a matter of making putts, which Berkeley Hall’s pristine greens have helped this week.
Hometown favorite Bryson Nimmer didn’t fare as well off the tee Saturday, fighting his driver for a second straight day en route to a 2-over-par 73 that dropped him into a tie for eighth at 5-under. The Clemson star was grinding out a solid round until an errant tee shot and a streak of bad luck led to a double-bogey at the par-5 15th, leaving him with a difficult task Sunday. Hilton Head Island’s Will Miles and Andrew Orischak both made the cut on the number at 2-over-par for the tournament.
The winner Sunday not only claims one of the top amateur events in the country, but also earns an exemption into the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing next April. That trip might be even more memorable than the ones Augenstein made as a vacationing kid, but he is trying not to think about that yet.
“There’s a lot of golf left to be played,” Augenstein said. “I know I’m in a good position, but I still have to go out there and play well tomorrow. There’s going to be a lot of guys out there gunning for me.”
The final gets underway at 7 a.m. with the leaders teeing off at 10:18 a.m. Admission is free and the tournament is open to the public.
For scores, tee times and analytics visit: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/3791993801417963192
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