Golf: Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein Cruises To 4-Shot Win At Players Amateur

The prospect of sleeping on the 54-hole lead at the 19th annual Players Amateur didn’t seem to faze John Augenstein, who on Saturday said he would call on the experience of closing out his first collegiate win three months ago to try to do the same Sunday afternoon.

He wasn’t kidding.

Augenstein proved cool under pressure Sunday, playing a nearly flawless final round to shoot 4-under-par 67, finish at 16-under and claim a 4-shot win over Florida’s Andy Zhang and an exemption into next year’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

Defending champion Philip Knowles (-8) tied for ninth, and Bluffton’s Bryson Nimmer (-5) closed with a 71 to tie for 16th. Hilton Head Island’s Will Miles fired a 6-under 65 to jump to 4-under for the tournament and tie for 19th.

Although it never really showed, Augenstein said he found his mind racing several times during the round and had to ask his caddy to help him refocus.

“Coach (Scott) Limbaugh at Vanderbilt is really big on staying in the moment and staying in your shot and not worrying about the future, and I was able to do that very well today,” Augenstein said. “Even at the times when I felt like I was getting ahead of myself, I was able to bring myself back before hitting the shot and settle down and usually end up hitting a good shot.”

His only misstep was a bogey at the par-4 ninth, which allowed Zhang (-12) and third-place finisher Will Grimmer (-11) of Ohio State to stay within striking distance. Every time Zhang tried to make a move, Augenstein was there to answer — they both made birdies at the par-4 11th and the par-5 15th, and Augenstein’s par save at the par-3 14th prevented Zhang from having an opening.

“It just felt like at that moment it was mine,” Augenstein said. “I was in position to finish it off. … The last three holes I didn’t need to do anything special, and they’re hard holes.”

Augenstein called the win the biggest of his career, in part because of the stakes — a spot in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, where the Vanderbilt junior has played once but has visited “a million times” as a vacationer.

“It’s a lifelong dream to play on the PGA Tour,” Augenstein said. “I’m very excited. I think it’s a good golf course for me, and I’m excited to be able to play some practice rounds with some guys.”

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