|The Perspective and Swagger of Austin Greaser|
By Sean Melia, MVGA Contributor
Perspective and “swagger” are not often delivered in the same package. But when Austin Greaser talks about his loss in the finals of the US Amateur at Oakmont, he balances both. “I’ve just got to take it in stride,” he said, “It's part of the game, but I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Over the week at Oakmont, Greaser stalked the fairways like a hunter, knocking off opponents in matches that had some wild swings of momentum. However, with his trademark swagger and self-confidence, he finds the perspective to handle disappointment within a round of golf and after a match is over. “It’s too bad that I had a bad final nine holes on Sunday, but if those nine holes happens earlier in the week, I don’t even have a chance to play in the finals.”
Austin Greaser grew up playing golf in Vandalia alongside his dad, who picked up the game after college. Austin remembers joining his dad at Cassel Hills as a youngster, “Chasing the ball around and riding on the cart.” He was hooked on the game immediately, “It intrigued me,” he said. Over the years of youth golf, he played his rounds at Walnut Grove, NCR, and now Springfield CC. His success as a junior sent him to University of North Carolina, where he’s beginning his junior year this week.
The success at the 121st US Amateur did not come as a surprise to Greaser, and it shouldn’t to anyone that followed him at UNC and during his summer run the last couple months. During his sophomore year, he earned All-American honorable mention and recorded a 71.32 scoring average, which is the 8th lowest in UNC history. He had an excellent ACC Championship, finishing in a tie for fifth. He was only the third Tar Heel ever to record three rounds in the 60s in that championship. Greaser also won last years (2020) Ohio Amateur by eight shots, breaking the tournament record by two shots, which was held by 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis.
When asked about his summer, Greaser immediately said, “I’ve had a fantastic spring and summer. I felt like I was on top of my game.” He certainly is, and his semi-final run in the Western Am and his finals appearance in the US Amateur are proof that he’s ready for a great fall at UNC, too.
Greaser is a competitor that genuinely loves match play. His aggressive play, especially with the driver, makes him tough to beat. “Match play gives you the chance to look at the guy you’re going to play for the day. It’s the only time that happens,” he said. At Oakmont, the added pressure and sizzle of large, excited crowds at a historic site spurred him on. “I’d walk through tunnels of people and they’d be yelling, ‘Go Greaser’ and ‘Grease Missile’ and things like that. I love that atmosphere.” The week of a US Amateur is a long one, and the ups and downs are plentiful. Rain impacted this particular event, and Greaser said he knew it was out of his control, and as a midwestern golfer, afternoon storms are just part of the deal. He was also fortunate to have made a new friend on the bag, as Carter Pitcairn, a member at Oakmont, toted Austin’s bag. “We’d start every round with a fist-bump and say, ‘Let’s go do this.’ I have a new friend for life.”
While losing in the final of any major tournament is disappointing, highlights abound from the week. The days do tend to blend together, though. When recalling the most important shot, it took Greaser a moment to remember what match he was playing in, but he knew exactly what shot he wanted to talk about. It was his driver on 14 in the semi-final. He drove the green, and put a lot of pressure on his opponent Travis Vick. Greaser converted his birdie, winning his fourth straight hole to put him three up with four to play. Vick would battle back, but that shot on 14 in Greaser’s mind, was the best of the week given the circumstances.
While winning a US Amateur is special, reaching the final also provides some wonderful perks. Greaser will likely receive an invite to play in the 2022 Masters and is guaranteed a US Open spot at The Country Club in Brookline next June. He knew what was on the line during his semi- final, “They announced it on the opening tee box,” he said, and then he mimicked the announcement, “With a win today, the player will earn a spot at...” he cut himself off and continued, “even if you wanted to keep it from your thoughts, they made sure you knew!” That might be why the drive on 14 in the semi-final was so important. Golf is about building blocks, and while Greaser didn’t pull off the victory, he managed to create more opportunities for himself in the future. “It’s surreal,” he said about playing in professional majors. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.” At the same time, he had that self-belief and swagger and make it happen, “I believed this was coming for me. I’m right where I want to be.”
With his mindset, confidence, and skill, Greaser is set up for quite a junior year at UNC. Most college golfers wouldn’t mind a spring trip to Augusta and a summer trip to the US Open.
|Interview Conducted on Tuesday, August 17 on Austin’s drive down to UNC.|