Augusta State men's golf coach Josh Gregory said he proved to himself this week that he can play on the national level.
Gregory won two matches in the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Milwaukee Country Club in River Hills, Wis. But his run came to an end Tuesday when he fell to Sean Knapp, 1-up, in the round of 16.
"It was awesome," Gregory said. "It was the most enjoyable golf week of my life."
In his first U.S. Golf Association event, Gregory carded rounds of 71-73 to advance to match play as the No. 28 seed in the 64-player field. In his opener Monday, Gregory dispatched Californian Scott Hardy, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist, 3 and 1.
On Tuesday morning, Gregory faced David Noll Jr., of Dalton, Ga., one of the top mid-amateur players in the state. Gregory birdied Nos. 15 and 16 and eventually won, 2 and 1.
In the afternoon, Gregory trailed for much of the match, but his par at No. 17 evened it up. Gregory failed to get up and down for par on the 18th. The bogey, just his second of the day, was bested by Knapp's par.
"I played great this afternoon," Gregory said. "I just didn't make a putt. I felt like if I had won this match I could've won the whole thing."
Knapp, of Oakmont, Pa., advanced to today's quarterfinals. The winner of the event will receive an invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.
Despite his loss, Gregory said he was excited to keep up with his team, as Augusta State finished in second place in the Aldila Scenic City Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"As disappointed as I am," he said, "that's awesome."
Gregory will play in the Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship on Oct. 2. He also will represent Georgia in a team match this fall.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.