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#TGW: Fairways and Highways

Andy Ogletree was a co-medalist at U.S. Open local qualifying on April 30 at Marietta Country Club.

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

– You might think that with spots in the U.S. Open on the line, golf will be different Monday when Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci play sectional qualifiers, yet Georgia Tech’s rising juniors will have you know that the game will be the same one they play for the Yellow Jackets.

It’s just that their teammates will be different. Oh, and Ogletree won’t have to carry his own clubs over 36 holes at the Settindown Creek Course at Roswell’s Ansley Golf Club, and Strafaci’s brother, Trent, will be on his bag at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.

They get to use caddies.

Otherwise, Strafaci said, “It’s the same thing. You just go out, try to do your process and shoot the best you can. It’s fun. The only difference is [that] it’s fun to be out of school, and get some rest. I’m traveling with my brother and it’s cool to be with him, and my parents will be there.”

Of course, Frank and Jill Strafaci will be there.

The Strafacis are a golf family, and The Bear’s Club is only about an hour north of their home in Davie, Fla., where Tyler has been getting a lot more sleep than when in school.

Ogletree will be further from his home in Little Rock., Miss., but he’s not sweating.

After he fired a 67 to tie two other golfers for medalist honors on April 30 in the U.S. Open local qualifier at the Marietta Country Club to be one of four golfers to advance out of a field of 72, he was given three choices of sectionals.

He didn’t get his first, but the second isn’t bad. Andy knows the area, and former Tech golfer and All-American Roberto Castro will also play at Settindown.

“We’ve been out there with Roberto a few times. You want to know what all the holes are like,” he said. “It’s not going to be a surprise to me …

“Once you get through local you get a first, second and third choice. Memphis filled up and so they sent me to Atlanta. It worked out very well, because two days after the qualifier I’m in the Dogwood [Invitational at the Druid Hills Country Club in Atlanta]. I can go back to my apartment.”

The Memphis qualifier at the Ridgeway Country Club and Colonial Country Club will be stacked with active PGA Tour professionals because it precedes the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in the same area, and every pro wants to play in the U.S. Open, which will be contested June 14-17 at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.

Two former Jackets have already qualified for the field. Matt Kuchar is in by virtue of having qualified for last season’s Tour Championship and because he was in top 60 of the World Golf Rankings as of May 21. Chesson Hadley made it by being ranked No. 60 on May 21 on the strength of six top-10 finishes this season.

Several other former Jackets will join Ogletree and Strafaci in trying to qualify.

Stewart Cink and Ollie Schniederjans are in the field this weekend with Kuchar and Hadley at The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, outside of Columbus.

They’ll both try at Monday’s qualifier at the Brookside Golf and Country Club in Columbus, while J.T. Griffin will play at Memphis following his weekend playing in the Rex Hospital Open on the Tour.

Much as Castro will join Ogletree at Settindown, Cameron Tringale will be at The Bear’s Club near Strafaci. Nicholas Thompson also will try his sticks at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

Strafaci and Ogletree will be busy this summer no matter what happens in their qualifiers. They’ve been busy since the Jackets finished sixth in the Raleigh NCAA regional a few weeks ago to end the team’s season.

“I’ve been working out a lot in the weight room, getting my body back to where it was in the offseason,” said Strafaci. “I’ve been working on my wedges, pretty much distance control.”

Like his teammate, Ogletree has spent a lot of time back home.

“I’ve just tried to enjoy some time with family,” Ogletree said. “The courses [in Mississippi] are good. Obviously the Golf Club [of Georgia], East Lake and the [practice] range [in Atlanta] are good, but I felt like I needed to spend time with my family.”

The young Jackets are about to get busy with Strafaci’s older brother, Trent, 25, caddying for him all summer.

Just days after the U.S. Open qualifiers, Ogletree will join Tech several teammates at the Dogwood June 6-9.

A week later, he’ll play in the Monroe Invitational in Pittsford, N.Y. and then the Northeast Amateur June 19-23 outside of Providence, R.I., the Players Amateur outside of Hilton Head July 10-15, a U.S. Amateur qualifier in Macon, the Western Amateur July 30-Aug. 4 outside of Chicago, and perhaps the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, Calif., Aug. 13-19 before returning for fall semester.

Strafaci will play the Sunnehanna Amateur June 13-16 in Johnstown, Pa., the Northeast, the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst (N.C.) June 25-29, the Players, the Porter Cup July 18-21 at the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Country Club, a U.S. Amateur qualifier and perhaps the U.S. Amateur.

They’ll both squeeze out a little more time with their families, too. Strafaci, for example, will join his clan later this summer at a lake house in Minnesota. Then, he’ll crank it up again for the Jackets.

“Right now I’m just trying to play as may good tournaments as I can,” Strafaci said. “I don’t think there’s really a high level amateur event that I’m not playing in [just] because I’m tired. I’m trying to play in as many good tournaments as I can.”


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