Jags two wins away from national title

Augusta State golfers top Georgia Tech 3-2 in quarterfinals
Augusta State's Patrick Reed celebrates as his match-clinching putt drops into the 18th hole.

OOLTEWAH, Tenn., --- Patrick Reed unleashed a Jaguar roar that might have traveled back across the foothills to Georgia.


Reed and Carter Newman each drained clutch putts on the final hole, while Henrik Norlander posted the deciding par to lift Augusta State to a 3-2 victory over Georgia Tech on Friday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Golf Championships at The Honors Course.

The smallest school to advance to match play, the fifth-ranked Jaguars kept alive their national championship hopes. They need two more wins for the school's first NCAA title.

"It's a credit to my guys for finding a way to finish it off," Augusta State coach Josh Gregory said. "We're one step closer to a dream."

The Jaguars will meet Florida State, a 4-1 winner over Texas Tech, in today's semifinals; Oregon and Oklahoma State will meet in the other match. The Augusta State-Florida State match begins at 9:45 a.m.

"It's going to be fun," Norlander said. "We have nothing to lose. No one wants to lose to us."

Against the storied Georgia Tech program, Augusta State led all five matches after eight holes. Then, rain delayed play for an hour. The Yellow Jackets found some momentum afterward and forced four matches to the final hole.

Newman, who shot 30 on the front and led 4-up over Paul Haley through nine holes, drained a five-foot bogey putt to win his match, 1-up, and claim the first point. Georgia Tech responded with a win by James White over Mitch Krywulycz, 2-up. Then, Kyle Scott finished birdie-birdie-par to win the final three holes and defeat Augusta State's Taylor Floyd, 1-up.

Reed was 1-up over Chesson Hadley entering the par-4 18th. Both players hit their approach shots to the green, Hadley needing to make a 30-foot birdie to have any shot of squaring the match. After the Yellow Jacket senior drained the putt, Georgia Tech players and fans celebrated. It only gave Reed motivation.

"It fired me up even more," he said. "I knew if I made (my putt) I could go even louder."

Needing 15 feet to win the match, Reed jabbed a dagger in the heart of the cup, tying the match at 2-all. He let out a yell so loud that Gregory heard it from the fairway and gave one of his hardest fist pumps into the thick air.

"I hope that loud scream sent a message to everybody that, hey, we're still here," Reed said.

The competition all came down to the Norlander-J.T. Griffin match. Norlander led 4-up through 12, but he bogeyed Nos. 13 and 15 and lost another hole when Griffin birdied No. 17.

Leading 1-up on the final hole, Norlander striped his drive down the middle of the fairway, setting up an 8-iron approach to 15 feet. Griffin knocked his approach to 12 feet.

After Norlander two-putted for par, Griffin needed to make the birdie putt to send the team match into a playoff. He missed, and the Jaguars survived.

"I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't special to beat Georgia Tech," Gregory said. "That's one of the best programs of all time. It's an in-state rival. It's the haves and the have-nots. To have an opportunity to beat Georgia Tech meant a lot to these kids."

Gregory credited Newman for going out first and getting a point off Haley, who finished tied for ninth in the individual portion of medal play.

Newman saved his match at the par-3 14th, where he knocked his tee ball into a plugged lie in the lip of the bunker. He got down on his knee and chipped the ball out onto the green. Then, Newman dropped the 25-foot par putt to go 2-up after Haley failed to get down from off the front of the green.

Newman was dormie with two holes to play and appeared to have to won his match after making par at No. 17. Haley, who shot 4-under in medal play, chipped in for birdie to stay alive.

"In match play, you have to expect the unexpected," said Newman, who closed with his knee-knocking, match-saving putt.

Now, Augusta State faces Florida State. The Seminoles finished second to Oklahoma State in medal play Thursday.

"They've got guys who hit it a long way and make a ton of birdies," Gregory said. "It'll be a contrast of styles."

Gregory added, though, not to count out his team.

"There's a quiet confidence about this group," he said. "They want to win badly. They've got something to prove. They've been overlooked for awhile."



Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:55

Thursday’s prep box scores

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:54