VANDALIA, Ohio (BVM) — Austin Greaser’s name was already well known by many within the Ohio golf scene before this summer. But the University of North Carolina (UNC) sophomore reminded everyone of his talent after his dominant performance in the 114th Ohio Amateur Championship this July.
The Vandalia, Ohio native got his feet wet in multiple sports when he was young. But it was golf that was always his passion, and it is the only sport he played while at Vandalia-Butler High School.
As a member of the Aviators’ boys golf team, Greaser starred. In his junior season, Greaser placed fifth in the state golf championship. As a senior, he finished second by one stroke at state, but would win or tie for medalist honors in every other tournament he played.
Greaser’s accolades during his high school years include two all-conference nods, as well as a Miami Valley Golf Association Junior Player of the Year award and a Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year award. By that final year at Vandalia-Butler, Greaser was the No. 1-ranked prep golfer in the state of Ohio, and was ranked No. 22 nationally by Rolex Rankings.
The 20-year-old knows he left quite a legacy on the Aviators’ golf program, and relished the opportunity to play as the top-ranked golfer in the state.
“I did feel some pressure about it,” Greaser said about being ranked No. 1 in the state. “But it’s a pressure you want to have. When people hear the name Austin Greaser I want them to think that I work hard but also that I’m not going to hand it to you and that I’m going to make you work. I’m not the best player out there but I am playing DI golf at an awesome school and that can be something to aspire for as a junior golfer.”
Greaser has used that mentality on the golf course ever since he was introduced to the game by his dad at 5 years old. He was always intrigued when watching his dad play, and really enjoyed the individual aspect that golf offered. In the years since, the star golfer has enjoyed the relationships he has gotten to make through playing the game.
The Vandalia-Butler grad is a good ball-striker, but it’s his putting which he believes is the best part of his game. Greaser always keeps a positive and confident mindset in every tournament he plays, modeling himself in a similar way to star golfer, Dustin Johnson.
“I have a lot of confidence in my game,” Greaser said. “A big thing for me is having that confidence in every tournament I go to and knowing that I wouldn’t be there if I couldn’t play with these guys and I wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t trying to win. I try to carry that mindset and carry a little bit of confidence and a little bit of swag with me as much as I can.”
Greaser carried that confidence with him outside of just playing for his high school team during his youth. One of the turning points of the golf star’s career was winning the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship at PGA National in 2016. It was a moment that made Greaser realize he could compete at the top levels of golf, and he would continue doing so the following year.
In 2017, Greaser made it to the second round of U.S. Open qualifying.
“To make it through the first round of U.S. Open qualifying was big for me,” Greaser explained. “It’s just a qualifier, but for me I knew what I had to do and I did it. That was a big moment because I faced the pressure and got right up in its grill and took its lunch.”
Two years later in 2019, Greaser would make it to the second round of qualifying for the U.S. Open once again. It was another beneficial moment for Greaser’s career, and he will continue to try and qualify for the major championship until he finally succeeds in making it.
“Those experiences were super cool,” Greaser said. “I remember my first time I was standing on the green next to Tony Finau and James Hahn and other guys who were competing and having success on the PGA Tour. To know that I belonged there was big and I definitely intend to keep playing the qualifiers until I get in one.”
Greaser’s strong youth and prep golf careers made him a highly sought after recruit. Although he didn’t have the amount of offers he wanted from Power 5 schools, Greaser still landed in the ACC after committing to the University of North Carolina. While he is thrilled to be playing for a special program, the lack of offers also put a chip on the Tar Heel golfer’s shoulders.
“I really wanted to play for a big program that was going to compete nationally,” Greaser said. “I had a rough summer between my sophomore and junior years which was a big time recruiting wise. But I kept my head down and knew it was going to happen. This past fall, I played in a tournament with a coach that I had gone and visited as a sophomore in high school. And at this tournament he looked and said, ‘Austin, why didn’t you tell me you were going to be this good?’ And I turned to him and said, ‘Coach, I told you, you just didn’t believe me.’ I always believed I was going to be good someday and I still dream even bigger than where I’m at right now.”
Greaser had a strong freshman year for the Tar Heels, starting in all eight events for his team while maintaining a scoring average of 72.08. In his second ever collegiate round, Greaser shot a 64 — tying for the seventh best score all-time in the program. He would go on to finish second in that tournament, and has immediate goals to come out on top in a tournament as a sophomore.
Greaser also feels his freshman year helped him to mature and put a greater focus on the team aspect of the sport.
Coming off his successful freshman season, Greaser made waves once again this summer. As area golf courses opened up through the late spring, Greaser frequently played at Springfield Country Club, whose greens are some of the most challenging in the area.
“Springfield is a great test and those greens are probably in the top five hardest greens in the state of Ohio,” Greaser said. “It definitely helped me and sharpened my game and it shaped up well going into the Ohio-Am.”
The hard work and practice paid off for Greaser by July, as he dominated in the Ohio Amateur at Columbus Country Club, winning the tournament by eight strokes. The UNC golfer also shot a tournament record 18-under par, breaking the previous mark set by former PGA Tour player, Ben Curtis.
Congratulations Austin Greaser. Sets tournament scoring record with an 18 under 270 to win the 2020 Ohio Amateur. The Vandalia, Ohio, native and Tar Heel broke Ben Curtis's record of 16 under set in 2000, three years before Curtis won the Open Championship at Royal St. George's. pic.twitter.com/6F0on9PO3O
— UNC Men's Golf (@UNCmensGolf) July 17, 2020
“I got started off and was five-under through my first seven holes,” Greaser noted. “It was just kind of one of those times where you’re in the zone and a little bit unconscious. It was a fantastic week to say the least and I just kept playing my style golf. I wasn’t going to come back to the field and they were going to have to come catch me. It was really special to see every aspect of my game come together for four rounds and I’d say having the scoring record in the 114 years it’s been played is one of my top accomplishments ever.”
The win gave Greaser an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship in August at Bandon Dunes. He also had the opportunity to play at last year’s championship at Pinehurst, and although his results may not have been what he wanted at either course, the golfer credits both as great experiences for his future career.
“It was an awesome experience and it’s awesome to be around some of the best players in the world,” Greaser said. “There’s a lot to take away from those events and I have taken a lot of positives away that I can build on and get ready for the next one that we’re in.”
Greaser will look to defend his title at next year’s Ohio Amateur Championship, but first he has his second season of golf as a Tar Heel to focus on. Beyond college, the goal for Greaser has always been professional golf. Between the experience he has already gained, and his continuous development, that goal may not be far off.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was 5,” Greaser said about playing professional golf. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a head-down mentality. There’s a lot of ups and downs to get there but you just got to keep working hard and keep getting better. It would mean a ton because this is what I’ve worked for for the last 15 years now. If I’m in a tour event someday I’m not playing for second, I want to win and win on the biggest stage. I want to be the best in the world and the best one on any given week.”