A familiar face was crowned the 2019 Monroe Invitational champion on Saturday as Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree launched an even-par 70 to win in his fourth attempt. Ogletree tied for third place in 2018, finished solo seventh in 2017, and earned a tie for 60th place in his first appearance back in 2016. He delivered rounds of 69, 71, 69, and 70 for a four-day total of 279.
Notre Dame junior Davis Chatfield and UNC Wilmington’s Segundo Oliva Pinto tied for second place at 1-over par. Three players tied for fourth place at +3 with Koichiro Ishika (Arizona State), Charlie Nikitas of Miami (OH.) and Ben Sigel (Kansas).
For Ogletree, the fourth try proved to be extra sweet after previously delivering strong performances in his other attempts at the MIC and coming up short. The Little Rock, Mississippi native remarked that the success he had in past years kept him coming back, in addition to the relationships he built at the tournament. One such relationship belongs with
MIC Tournament Director J.P. Kircher. Said Ogletree, “The last two years I came within two strokes of winning so I told J.P. last year, I think I’m going to come back one more time – I’ve got to get this thing. I was thinking about that a lot today – it is really neat to finally do it.”
The 2019 champion cruised to an opening 33 on the front 9 with birdies on No. 3 an No. 7, appearing to be in cruise control.
It was not until the par-5 12th that Ogletree faced some adversity. A lead that was at one point as large as five strokes dwindled to just one following a double bogey on the 12th and a bogey on the par-3 13th to drop to -1. Chatfield, who was in the second-to-last group, was even par until a bogey on the par-4 14th put him back in green and two shots back.
Chatfield was unable to keep the pressure on Olgetree, dropping his second consecutive stroke on the par-4 15th which allowed Ogletree to breathe a bit easier after carding a par of his own on the 14th. A birdie on the par-4 15th provided some cushion for the Georgia Tech senior to finish the round.
Said Ogletree, “Obviously I felt a little nervous when I went from four ahead to one ahead after 12 and 13, but I just needed something to get me going again and after 15 I felt fine.”
The second-place finish for Chatfield was noteworthy considering he did not participate in the spring at Notre Dame due to academic reasons. “I’m really happy with how it went overall,” said Chatfield following the round. “This was one of my big tournaments coming back, so finishing second this this week is a big momentum boost going into the summer.”
Fellow second place finisher, Oliva Pinto, saw a strong performance hampered by the front 9 all week. He played the front +11 compared to -10 for the back nine. When asked what was the cause for the disparity between the front and back scores, Segundo remarked, “I guess the back just suited me better.” “I was able to be more patient and to leave myself the shots that I like. I failed to do that on the front.”
Remarkably, round four delivered two aces. Koichiro Ishika (Arizona State) holed-out on the 149-yard par-3 8th. The other ace came from Fred Biondi on the 205-yard par-3 6th.
During the championship ceremony, all the low-round golfers were recognized. Oliva Pinto the lowest round of the tournament in round 1 with a 64. Texas sophomore Parker Coody launched a 65 in round two. The eventual champion, Ogletree, delivered the lone round under par (69) in the most challenging conditions on Friday. Florida State’s Jake Carter was the low round on day 4 with a 66.
2020 will mark the 80th Monroe Invitational.