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November 9, 2020

Andy Ogletree

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Well, I guess we start. I see Andy's picture on the wall over there and I have Andy right here next to me.
Andy, we are delighted to have you here with us. U.S. Amateur and first‑time Masters participant, so that's very, very special. We welcome you to the press building, and certainly to the tournament.
Andy joins us as the 2019 Amateur Champion, an accolade he shares with Bobby Jones, co‑founder of this tournament and this course. You also share another thing with him. You both went to Georgia Tech.
ANDY OGLETREE: That's right.
THE MODERATOR: And have you thought about that connection any?
ANDY OGLETREE: A lot. Going to Georgia Tech, my first few years, we actually wore Bobby Jones clothing, and so that was like a super big deal to us. The legacy of Bobby Jones still lives on at Georgia Tech. When you speak of Georgia Tech golf, you think Bobby Jones, and to be at the place that he co‑founded with Mr.Roberts is just super special.
Yeah, I'm just glad to be on the list of Georgia Tech alums to be able to play in this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: We are delighted to have you here.

Q. We don't see a lot of Mississippians here. How does that make you feel to represent the state like that?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, super cool. I think I was the first player to ever win the U.S. Am from Mississippi. There's a lot of really good players that are up‑and‑coming from Mississippi. Just to name a few, you have me; Davis Riley; Wilson Furr; Braden Thornberry, who won the National Championship a couple years ago, Jonathan Randolph, who is on the Korn Ferry Tour. The list goes on and on and on.
So I think Mississippi golf was kind of falling off for a while, and now it's getting back to‑‑ it's crazy how it comes in waves. You have players that become really good, push other players. And I think Mississippi has done a great job with their junior program. I grew up playing in the Mississippi Golf Association tournaments, and I think those tournaments have helped all of us. We obviously went on to play the different junior tours like the AJGA and SJGT and things like that and eventually just amateur golf.
But getting started in Mississippi and having good golf courses to play was definitely what helped me become a good player and get to college and develop my talents here.

Q. You've talked about it before, but just expound on what this year has been like and your plans and how COVID‑19 has turned everything upside‑down, and what's been going on in your life and how you've gotten through this interesting stage.
ANDY OGLETREE: It's obviously been crazy time. A lot of people have lost a lot. I know my problems are a lot smaller than a lot of people's problems, but I will say I've given up a lot of stuff to be able to play in this tournament. I'm not going to take this week for granted.
I originally planned to turn pro right after the National Championship because I graduated this past May, so I was going to turn pro right after the National Championship. The Memorial would have been my first pro event. The U.S. Open changed the rule to where I could have played the U.S. Open as a pro; they are calling that the Viktor Hovland rule now.
So yeah, in a normal year, you would have thought I would have got a decent amount of sponsor exemptions after the U.S. Open and played well enough to get my card. I had to delay the process of turning pro, but like I said, I wouldn't give up any chance to play the Masters as an amateur for anything.
If I had to wait till next year, I was going to do it. So I just think this is such a special week. This tournament, getting to play here as an amateur is super special. I can't wait for the Amateur Dinner and I can't wait to stay in the Crow's Nest, and I want to have the whole experience. And thankfully we're able to play, and looking forward to getting out there.

Q. So you are staying in the Crow's Nest, that's all open and open for business?
ANDY OGLETREE: This year they are doing it a little different. Normally all the amateurs stay up there together. For social distancing this year, they are doing one person per night. So I am going to stay on Wednesday night after the Amateur Dinner. I'll stay up there before the first round, and if it's open another night, I might try to stay there again.

Q. Who all is with you?
ANDY OGLETREE: My dad is my swing coach, so he's here with me. My mom is my plus‑one. All the players are allowed a plus‑one. And then my grandmother is going to come over. She's my chef this week. She's the best cook I know. So we asked if she would come hang out, you know, just to give me a little more comfort back home at our house this week and just trying to be as comfortable as possible.

Q. Can I ask you, how is the state of your game and what have you been doing to try to keep it sharp here between‑‑
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, so I actually got to play in a few TOUR events this summer. I played in Colonial. I played in Hilton Head. I played Memorial, U.S. Open, and then I threw in a couple amateur events, as well. I played the Western Am and the U.S. Am.
Actually had a pretty busy schedule. Felt like my game, I started out at Colonial, I was putting really bad, so I worked really hard on my ball‑striking. Kind of neglected my short game and felt like I haven't really put it all together. Going into the U.S. Open, I was feeling really good, I was‑‑ felt like I was hitting it better, felt like I was putting it well, chipping it well, and just kept missing fairways by like one yard.
You know, at Winged Foot, one yard is the same as 20. Rough was super‑deep. You had to lay up to a lot of full wedges, if you were one yard in the fairway or 20 yards in the fairway, didn't really matter. Not an excuse, but I just needed to play better.
This week, I feel like my game has really come together. I worked really hard the last few weeks with my swing with my coach, Tony Ruggiero. I just feel like everything is kind of trending in the right direction. I'm hitting my driver well. My irons feel like they have gotten a lot better, and I've been putting really well since the U.S. Open. So I feel like everything is peaking at the right time.

Q. Prospect of playing with Tiger, how much has that been sitting on your mind for all these months?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, it didn't really‑‑ I guess, you know, right after I won the U.S. Am, I thought about it a lot. You imagine the big crowds. You imagine playing with Tiger. You imagine the roars. You imagine people running up to see Tiger and then running to the next hole after he taps in, stuff like that.
The past few weeks, it's become a lot more real that I'm actually playing with him, not necessarily thinking about the crowds and the experience. It's more I'm just like playing in the same arena as Tiger. So I've thought about it a lot. Obviously growing up, I was a super, super big Tiger fan, like a lot of people here. He's kind of the reason that golf is considered cool, you know. He's the reason a lot of people watch golf. He makes golf what it is today.
And so I think just to be paired with him is awesome. I mean, he was definitely an inspiration to me early on in the game. And I don't know how much we'll talk and how much interaction we'll have, but just to play, that's good enough to me.

Q. What would your plans have been for the Par‑3 contest in terms of caddie, etc., who you might have played with?
ANDY OGLETREE: I don't know. I think some people have rotated caddies through‑‑ I could be wrong there, but I think people have taken multiple caddies and let them do three holes apiece. I don't know. I have two brothers, so maybe let one of them caddie for three holes, the other caddie for three holes and my dad caddie for three holes or something. I don't really know.

Q. As far as practice rounds this week, are you getting together with like a Matt Kuchar who went to Georgia Tech like you and played as a U.S. Amateur champ, anybody you're trying to pick their brain?
ANDY OGLETREE: I haven't really set up any practice rounds. The last couple days I played with Lucas Glover. We joined up with Andrew Putnam today. And the three of us all played, and Nate Lashley was with us, as well.
Yeah, I don't really have any plans, per se. If someone asks me to play, I feel like they are kind of hinting at that, I'll definitely ask‑‑ but I'm not really just like fan‑girling over playing with anyone. I'm just really focused on what I'm doing. If I'm playing a practice round by myself or with someone, that's fine by me.

Q. How much have you gotten over here to play the course?
ANDY OGLETREE: I've probably played Augusta National, including today, I think I've played 11 times, but a few times have been just nine holes. I feel really comfortable around the place. I feel like the first few times I came‑‑ fortunate enough, we get to play one time a year at Georgia Tech. So that was always the coolest day of the year for college kids to wake up super early on a Saturday morning, drive down. We would get here eight, nine o'clock, eat breakfast, go hit like ten balls and you're off to the first tee. At Augusta National, it was always just the most beautiful mornings. We usually played February or March. So it was always, you know, super cool.
But you'd get five holes in before you realized you were playing golf. You're just looking around and, oh, so‑and‑so hit a shot there, so‑and‑so hit a shot there.
So you start on 1, 2, 3, you want to make a couple birdies. The first few times I played, I was well over par through five, six holes and before I actually started playing golf, and not just taking it all in. I think the more I've been here, the more comfortable I've gotten of getting into the round early.
The last couple days, I've tried to keep score and tried to get into my tournament mode, I guess you could call it. Trying to get into the mind‑set of golf instead of just taking in the whole experience. I think by Thursday, I'll get there. But it's hard to not wander and let your mind think of all the history around this place and all the shots you've seen on TV, it's hard to not think about some of that stuff. But I've got to just get into shot by shot and play a golf tournament on Thursday.

Q. When you come here to play prepare for a tournament, are you working more on putting, short game around the greens? Is there a specific area for this course?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, are you talking about preparing back home?

Q. Now that you're here, are you going to play the tournament?
ANDY OGLETREE: Now that I'm here, so the last couple days, the fringes haven't been cut as low as I think they will be. So I've been trying to pick‑and‑choose what pitch shots I'm hitting. I don't want to hit a lot of bank shots into the hill right now because I know the grass is a little longer than it's going to be, and I think it's going to skid a little more when it comes Thursday.
All the pitch shots that are landing on the green, I've been trying to hit all the ones that I think I could possibly have this week. It's hard to know exactly where you're going to hit it, but you know where the good miss is, so I've tried to hit all those lots.
Lag putting, the greens are pretty quick right now. You can see they are getting a little bit of brown crust to them. I know we are going to get some rain to soften them up a little bit, but the SubAir system is here and they are capable of getting them firm. The greens, I don't think they are going to slow up, but they are probably not as fast as they are going to be on Thursday, but you can still see kind of what the ball is going to do on the long lag putts. And the ridges, you kind of know what part of the ridge is softer than the other, the high points, just trying to putt over the ridges, basically.
Then on the practice green, you want to hit a lot of five‑, six‑footers that break a lot. You're not going to hit every lag putt close, you're not going to chip everything close, so you're probably going to have some big breakers that are under ten feet, and you need to make some of those to keep your momentum going. I think lag putting and chipping that's not banking it into the hill is super important right now.

Q. You've had a chance to play in several PGA TOUR events and the U.S. Open in the lead‑up to the Masters. How do you feel these events prepared you for this week?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, that's a great question, kind of something I wanted to talk about, too.
I learned a lot playing those TOUR events, and I feel like all those different learning experiences have prepared me for this moment. And I know if I play well at the Masters, it just jump‑starts my career even more than winning the U.S. Am. I've tried to really learn from those events. There's the saying, it's not losing, it's learning.
I haven't played well. I've learned a lot and I feel like now that my game feels like it's in a good spot, I can play well and use all the things that I've learned, especially at the U.S. Open. Major championship golf is just different than any other type of golf.
So if you get in a bad spot, you really have to take your medicine. One shot is not that big a deal. Two shots is a lot tougher than, you know, going through college, playing amateur golf. Two shots, go make an eagle on the next hole or whatever. But nowadays, two shots is a lot different. Really, just try to keep the momentum going. If you get in a bad spot, pitch it out, move on.
But yeah, those opportunities have really prepared me for Augusta National, I think, and I was just super fortunate to get to play those as an amateur and not having to play those as a professional trying to play for my card.

Q. What is the best advice that you have received on how to approach this course?
ANDY OGLETREE: This course in particular? That's a good question too. I've gotten a lot of advice. I've talked to a lot of people. A lot of advice was about the crowd and handling nerves and things like that, but I think‑‑ I don't know how much of that there will be.
I'll definitely be a little nervous before the first round, but I just think the best advice that I've gotten before any big tournament is to run towards the pressure. You know, you prepare your whole life for moments like this. Since I was four years old, I've been preparing to get to a place like this and to have these type of opportunities.
I need to run towards that pressure, you know, want that pressure. If you're nervous, if you have pressure, that means you've done something good.
So I've just always been a believer in wanting to have nerves and wanting to have pressure and embracing it. Everyone feels it. It's not that it's something wrong with you if you feel nervous. Just having that mind‑set going in, I feel like gives me a little bit of an advantage.

Q. Is your hometown doing anything special? Is there like a launch party?
ANDY OGLETREE: I don't really know. I haven't talked to a lot of people, trying to stay off my phone as much as I can. I know there's a lot of outside distractions that can go on. But I'm sure there will definitely be some watch parties, I'm sure. I don't really know of anything specific that they are doing, but I know one of my brothers is there, and I'm sure he'll have his crew watching. But I don't know of any in particular.

Q. What happens after this in terms of staying amateur, turning pro, waiting for the Walker Cup and Seminole, looking ahead, what are your thoughts?
ANDY OGLETREE: I plan on turning pro at some point after the Masters, trying to see what all of my options are at this point. I know the Walker Cup was one of the coolest weeks of my life and definitely a great experience. Winning over there was super cool. I think winning here in America would be even cooler.
So I don't know, I've talked to Nathaniel Crosby, who's the captain, and I've kind of told him where I was at, if I ‑‑ trying to get some sponsor invites into tournaments, to be quite honest with you. Hopefully we can get some of those lined up, and if so, I'll plan to turn pro; and if not, we'll see what all the options are.

Q. With the way the year has gone and everything else, you've been living in Atlanta, working on your golf mostly and you've been doing other things. Just how you're occupying your time, are you working outside of golf?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, once you graduate college, the first few months are kind of weird. You've gone four years of your life, you have a set schedule from‑‑ for us, it was 5:45 in the morning until I went to sleep. So at 5:45 we were at workouts; at 8:00, you had class; you got out at 12, go to the golf course. You stay at the golf course until traffic dies down, and then we would go back home and do homework until we went to bed. So that was every day in Atlanta at Georgia Tech.
Then you get out of college, and you're like, wow, it's 7:00 in the morning, I've already worked out; what am I going to do for the rest of the day? So definitely been‑‑ I've definitely been practicing, I don't want to say too much, but it's easy to just get out there and practice too much because I didn't really know what else to do.
I mean, that was just all I've done for four years, is I get done with school and I'm going to practice until dark. Now that I don't have school, it's how I occupy my time. I don't really have any hobbies or pastimes. You know, golf is what I want to do, and I would hate to feel like I didn't put everything I had into it.
Yeah, good question, but I pretty much have just been waking up, working out, practicing and going back to bed. There hasn't been‑‑ it's definitely not a lack of effort, and I feel like I'm prepared.

Q. Last question, if you don't mind, your grandmother, what do you call her? And what is her cooking specialty that she's going to be preparing?
ANDY OGLETREE: We call he her Ma‑Mo [phonetic]. It's my mom's mother. It's my only grandparent that I have left here with us. So super close with her. She grew up like two miles down the road from where I live.
So yeah, super good relationship with her. And they have a huge garden at her house. My whole family kind of helps out with it. So yeah, she'll bring some homegrown vegetables, and I assume she'll bring her skillet with her. Looking forward to eating some food.

Q. Did you think you would be here playing a fall Masters? What did you see on the course?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, it's definitely interesting. If I thought I would be here in November playing the Masters, probably not. It's never happened before. So I don't think anyone envisioned it before, before the year, but I remember getting a phone call, I guess it was, what, February 12th or March 12th when the world shut down, the National Championship was canceled, all spring sports were canceled, definitely a low point in my life.
We felt like we had a really good team at Georgia Tech last year. We had three seniors that had played every tournament together, so we were all super disappointed how it ended for us. Kind of‑‑ it's easy to feel sorry for yourself and kind of feel like, oh, so much is lost.
But there was rumors of maybe playing the Masters in November, and I was like, oh, that would be really cool. I've actually‑‑ I was here practicing on the same dates. I was here the same weekend as we were playing this year, last year. Super ironic and I never would have thought I'd be playing the Masters a year from then, but it's pretty cool.

Q. Curious to know what you studied at Georgia Tech, and if it's going to be useful to you for the rest of your life?
ANDY OGLETREE: Yeah, I studied business, business administration. I just did general business. I think it will be useful. Hopefully I'll be successful in this. But just having that business mind‑set and professional golf, you're your own CEO, so I think it will definitely serve me well going forward.
THE MODERATOR: It looks like that's the end of the interview, but we all want to congratulate you for what you've accomplished so far, and wish you the very, very best of luck here at the Masters, your first Masters. Good luck and thank you.
ANDY OGLETREE: Thanks. Great to be here.

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