With two match-play victories on Thursday, John Augenstein has played himself into the quarterfinals of the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
The former Owensboro Catholic High School star and All-American at Vanderbilt University dispatched two top-10 golfers in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in back-to-back matches.
"You have to beat the best to be the best," Augenstein said. "I don't know, I've always played really well in tough matches because I like to think that I'm going to beat them no matter what."
Augenstein's day began with a 4 and 2 victory in the Round of 32 against heralded 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia.
Augenstein gained an early advantage on No. 4 despite a bogey, but Bhatia tied the contest with a birdie on the next hole. Three consecutive birdies put Augenstein ahead again, but Bhatia -- a North Carolina native who's ranked No. 5 in the world and is set to turn pro later this year -- carded a par and a birdie to cut Augenstein's advantage to one through 10 holes.
However, the former Kentucky Mr. Golf winner closed out the round by winning the Nos. 11, 13 and 16 holes.
Later in the day, Augenstein captured a 1-up victory over the world's ninth-ranked amateur, Ricky Castillo, in the Round of 16.
Augenstein went up by four early, using birdies on Nos. 3, 5 and 8, along with a par on No. 6.
Castillo, a Yorba Linda, California resident who earned the tournament's second seed following stroke play, won the first three holes on the back nine, but the two matched shot for shot during the remainder of the round.
At No. 38 in the world, Augenstein is the highest-ranked player remaining in the field. He returns to action at 2 p.m. Friday against Palmer Jackson of Murrysville, Pennsylvania.
Despite the long days at Pinehurst, Augenstein has tried to stay even keel during the competition.
"I've been through a lot of 36-hole days with playing at Vanderbilt and SEC Championships, national championships and also just some regular-season events," Augenstein told FOX Sports. "And so you kind of know what to expect. You really have to pace yourself in how you're warming up and making sure your body's right, getting a lot of sleep at night and making sure you're hydrating and eating on the golf course.
"I don't think about it really anymore. ... But it is a long day and it's definitely grinding out here."
The U.S. Amateur semifinals will be Saturday, with the final slated for Sunday.