STILLWATER, Okla. --- Augusta State's players headed to the driving range after their round Thursday, with smiles on their faces.
After three grueling days of stroke play at the NCAA Division I Golf Championship, the defending champion Jaguars are back where they want to be -- match play. Augusta State now sits three match victories away from a second consecutive title.
"I'm liking where we are right now," said junior Patrick Reed, who was named a first team All-American later in the day.
In difficult, windy conditions, the Jaguars shot 1-over on the final four holes to close at 24-over-par 888 and finish seventh in the stroke play portion of the event at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The top eight teams to survive the 54-hole cut advanced to today's match play quarterfinals.
Augusta State will face off against Georgia Tech, which finished as stroke-play runner-up. The teams will go off the No. 1 tee, starting at 12:30 p.m. Last year, the Jaguars defeated the Yellow Jackets in the quarterfinals.
"I'm sure they want revenge," senior Carter Newman said. "They've had a great week. They're playing well. We're going to have to play really well to beat them."
"We've got a great opportunity," Jaguars coach Gregory said. "Nobody wants to lose to Augusta State."
The Jaguars, who bounced around from sixth to 10th throughout the day, shot 12-over 300 to earn a spot in match play by two shots. Duke shot 293 to finish in eighth at 25-over 889. Texas A&M shot 300 to place ninth and miss match play by one stroke.
UCLA shot 298 to finish at 872 and win stroke play by three shots over the Yellow Jackets (302). The Bruins will face the Blue Devils in another quarterfinal matchup, while Oklahoma State (294, 879) will be the third seed and face sixth seed Ohio State (297, 887). Fourth seed Illinois (301, 879) will face fifth seed Georgia (305, 884) in the other match.
Reed birdied two of the final five holes to close with 1-under-par 71. He shot 1-under for the week and finished in a tie for third, four shots behind individual champion John Peterson of Louisiana State University.
"I feel like my game's there," Reed said. "My game plan is really spot on."
Individually, Newman shot 75 to tie for 50th at 8-over 224, while Henrik Norlander added 76 for 225.
Mitch Krywulycz, who shot 1-over on the final 10 holes after a 5-over start, shot 78 for 230. Olle Bengtsson posted a noncounting 82 for 243.
"Patrick played great and carried us this week," Norlander said. "Hopefully, someone else can step up and we can go all the way. We have a chance."
"Give him a world of credit," Gregory said of Reed. "He put us on his back this week."
When other teams were hemorrhaging shots down the stretch, Augusta State's top four players all did something special to help keep the team's hopes alive.
Krywulycz parred his final two holes, including a two-putt at the par-5 ninth, the team's final hole. Norlander recorded four consecutive pars, including a pair of slippery par putts at Nos. 7 and 8, which offset a lip-out for bogey at the last.
Newman almost aced the 175-yard, par-3 seventh. He struck a 9-iron to the left of the green, the ball skimmed the cup and settled six feet away. He dropped the right-to-left breaker.
"That was huge," he said. "I knew we needed birdies."
After three-putting No. 17, Newman hit his third shot to 30 feet at No. 9. There, he two-putted for a crucial par.
"We definitely didn't need a bogey," Newman said. "I was so nervous I could hardly control the putter. I was just shaking. I think we all were."
Reed, who overcame an early double bogey, stood at 1-over through 13 holes.
Playing last, he birdied the par-4 fifth before rolling in an 18-foot birdie at No. 7. Reed added par at the next hole before striping his drive long and down the middle at No. 9.
Reed struck a 4-iron toward the green. The ball hit a tree branch right and fell into a buried, uphill lie in the front bunker at 18.
With Augusta State desperately needing a par, after Reed blasted long, then two-putted from 30 feet for par, Augusta State finally breathed.