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Butler junior turning heads on the golf course

Austin Greaser recently won back-to-back AJGA tournaments

The 2017 golf season isn’t one that Austin Greaser will remember fondly.

Yes, there was that day in Lexington, Ky., when he advanced through local qualifying for the U.S. Open with three straight birdies.

Other than that, he fell short of his expectations.

»RELATED: Greaser wins pair of AJGA events

“I just had a rough year,” the 17-year-old junior at Vandalia-Butler High School said. “I don’t think I played Austin Greaser golf last year. I really struggled with my putting.”

Over the last six years Greaser has established himself as one of the Dayton area’s best young players. At the age of 12, he was player of the year among the 12- and 13-year-olds competing on the Southern Ohio PGA Junior Tour. In nine events that summer he had three wins and four seconds.

As a freshman at Vandalia-Butler he turned in a 2-under-par 70 in the 2015 Ohio high school sectional tournament to earn the medalist award at Beavercreek Golf Club.

That performance in Lexington last season was his best accomplishment. He posted a 71 in the local competition at Kearney Hills by birdieing the last two of his 18 holes to get into a nine-man playoff. A birdie on the first hole of the playoff gave him one of Lexington’s four spots in the sectional.

After that he didn’t have the success to which he was accustomed.

A few weeks ago, however, he put together a couple of performances that raised a few eyebrows. He won back-to-back events sponsored by the American Junior Golf Association.

In the 36-hole AJGA Preview at LaPurisima April 14-15 in Lompoc, Calif., Greaser put his name atop the scoreboard by turning in scores of 69 and 71 for a 4-under-par score of 140. On the following weekend he went to Goshen, Ky., for an AJGA 54-hole event at Harmony Landing Country Club and beat some of the best juniors in the country by posting a 4-under-par 209.

The two tournaments are among 15 in the AJGA’s preview series for those who have not played in the AJGA’s elite invitational events. They give juniors an opportunity to show that they belong.

Greaser’s two wins probably will get him the recognition he needs to play against the AJGA’s best. He is 80th in the latest Rolex AJGA rankings.

I had never seen Greaser play until recently when I watched him in a practice round at NCR Country Club. He was with his friend, Ryan Gillen, a 26-year-old NCR member who carries a 2 handicap on the South Course and sometimes caddies for him.

I caught up with them on the fourth green and watched them play the remaining holes on the front nine from the back tees. The golf I watched did not resemble what most of us see when we’re golfing with our friends, and it was a pleasure to watch.

Greaser drives the ball out of sight, lands most of his approach shots where he wants them and then casually makes the putts.

He plans to play in several out-of-town tournaments this summer but is not certain he will represent his high school in the state competition this fall.

He said it will depend on whether he has accepted a college golf scholarship before the prep season begins. In Ohio, golfers are not permitted to play in any events other than their high school matches once the schedule begins.

Greaser might not want to be restricted like that if he still hasn’t signed with a desired college. “That’s why I’m on the fence,” he said.

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