Rónán MacNamara in Oman
Former US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree has had a bizarre twelve months but he has come out on the right side of it and is now carving out a career for himself on the Asian Tour as he looks to fulfil his potential after some early promise.
Having won the US Amateur title in 2019 at Pinehurst, Ogletree impressed at Augusta National as a T34 finish secured him the low amateur prize in the 2020 Masters.
The Mississippi native looked to have the world at his feet, an All-American at Georgia Tech and a Walker Cup winner to add to his list of accolades. However, upon turning pro he didn’t grasp the handful of starts he was granted and a torn labrum saw him take six months out of the game.
Monday qualifiers and 2021 Korn Ferry Q-School didn’t bear fruit so without a place to play, he agreed to play in the first LIV event of 2022 in England. Despite his conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour not gaining him entry into any co-sanctioned events, he was denied a release from the PGA Tour, but still opted to play, resulting in a suspension which was lifted in January.
The 24-year-old finished dead last in the 48-man field and still earned over $120,000 although he has not played in a LIV event since plunging his career into obscurity.
Needing a place to play, Ogletree turned to the Asian Tour and earned his maiden professional win at the International Series Egypt in November which gained him full tour status and he has continued to blossom with a T9 at last week’s Saudi International.
Despite his PGA Tour suspension being lifted, Ogletree would have no status should he wish to return Stateside but presently he has no intentions of slogging it out in Monday qualifiers, believing he has improved as a player on the Asian Tour and will continue to do so.
“No plans to return as of yet, but I don’t really want to go and play a pre-qualifier and spend a week in a random town for a Monday qualifier, that doesn’t sound ideal,” Ogletree said after his second round at the International Series Oman. “I think for now, I’m just going to focus on the tournaments that I’m in and try to play well in those.
“You don’t learn anything from playing 18 holes in a birdie fest trying to make nine birdies to try and get through a Monday qualifier. I think you learn a lot out here when you’re playing in 25 mile an hour winds and playing four rounds of golf against really good competition. You learn how to play golf and eventually you want to be on the elite tours where you’re not playing 18 holes around a local municipal course and trying to get there.
“It’s nice to have somewhere to play and be able to make my schedule and know where I’m playing and when I’m playing so that’s huge for me. I’m gaining experience and learning a lot along the way. It’s a good tour and I’m really enjoying it so far.”
Life rarely seems to be dull when Ogletree is around and he was struck down by food poisoning on Wednesday night which almost forced him to withdraw on Thursday morning. He played on, shooting an opening 68 to soar into the mix again.
The second round saw the wind sweep in over the adjacent Indian Ocean and wreak havoc on Al Mouj Golf. Ogletree dropped three shots in his last four holes as the very challenging conditions took its toll on his weary body but at one-under he is just four back at the time of writing despite a 75.
Visibly frustrated by his finish, the American was admittedly feeling better and can look forward to a significant rest with a late tee time to follow on Saturday.
“Honestly I’m pretty frustrated right now, I just bogeyed three of my last four holes so I’m not in a very good mood. Body feels fine I’m a little bit tired, gonna get some rest and get ready for the weekend. I think the scores will be pretty high this afternoon so I imagine I won’t lose too much ground today.
“I just played bad on the last few holes, made a couple of mistakes had played very well until then. Pretty disappointed with the last four holes but it’s fine.”
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