Augusta State men’s golf coach Kevin McPherson doesn’t want his players over-thinking the situation this weekend.
The two-time defending NCAA Division I national champion Jaguars are two wins under .500 entering their home tournament, their final event of the regular season. To qualify for the regionals – and have any shot at winning a third national title in a row – Augusta State has to finish sixth or better.
“They should be worried about winning, not finishing in the top six,” McPherson said. “If we play to our potential, we’ll be just fine.”
The Jaguars play host to a star-studded field in their 33rd annual home event at Forest Hills Golf Club. The tournament begins with a shotgun start at 8:30 this morning, with teams playing 36 holes. The final round will be held Sunday.
The 16-team field features six teams from the Lone Star State, including No. 1 Texas, which features the top two players in the country in Jordan Speith and Dylan Frittelli. Other ranked teams include: No. 13 Clemson, No. 22 Oklahoma State (the defending tournament champ), No. 27 Baylor, No. 35 Texas Christian University, No. 40 Southern Methodist University and No. 50 Lamar. USC Aiken is No. 18 in Division II.
Augusta State is ranked No. 46 in this rebuilding season, when first-year coach McPherson had to replace all five starters from the national championship lineup. The Jaguars were below the .500 line all of the fall, but a second-place finish at March’s Charleston Shootout moved them above .500 – all teams have to be above .500 to qualify for the NCAA postseason.
Augusta State fell two spots below the .500 line after finishing 10th at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate four days ago. Now, their postseason hopes all reside on their home event.
“It’s our home course. So we have an advantage,” senior Brendan Gillins said. “If we get two or three guys playing well, we should be in contention.”
Augusta State is led by senior Taylor Floyd, who has posted a pair of top-10 finishes in his past four events and owns a team-best 73.74 scoring average. Floyd won the Augusta State Invitational as a freshman.