Jaguars end careers as champs

Augusta State head coach Josh Gregory hugs his wife Ashley Gregory after his team won the team match final of the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla., Sunday.

STILLWATER, Okla. --- When Augusta State defeated Oklahoma State on its home turf a day earlier, coach Josh Gregory gathered his players and told them they still had one more match to win.

 

After Mitch Krywulycz delivered the Jaguars' second point in Sunday's final, Gregory sprinted down the 17th fairway back to the 16th green to catch the last match, yelling out, "One more."

One more was the rallying cry for Augusta State for the past year.

And when dusk settled Sunday at Karsten Creek Golf Club, the Jaguars got just what they came for -- one more.

Augusta State added its second consecutive NCAA title when it defeated Georgia, 3-2, in the championship portion of match play. The Jaguars became the first team in 26 years to win back-to-back NCAA Division I titles.

"We worked hard. We wanted this. We knew we could get it. And we went out and got it. Twice," senior Carter Newman said. "That's pretty sweet."

Olle Bengtsson, Taylor Floyd, Henrik Norlander, Patrick Reed and Krywulycz and Newman each helped Augusta State win a national championship -- the first coming in 2010 at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. When it came time to play the NCAA Championship this year on Oklahoma State's venue, Augusta State proved again up to the task.

The Jaguars survived three difficult days of stroke play and then knocked off in-state rivals Georgia Tech and Georgia, along with a win over the hometown favorite Cowboys in the middle.

"It's pretty special. It's tough to believe," Norlander said. "We have a great team, and we have a deep team."

Reed, who drove Sunday night to Memphis, Tenn., to partake in his first professional event, the PGA Tour's FedEx St. Jude Classic, displayed dogged determination all week, finishing in a tie for third in stroke play. Then, he defeated all three opponents to improve to 6-0 in two years of match play at the NCAA Championship.

"It's ridiculous how well he's playing," Norlander said. "He's unbeatable. He's the best amateur in the world at the moment. I'm going to bet money on him next week. He's that good at the moment."

Augusta State is that good as well. And the Jaguars delivered one more time in close fashion against the Bulldogs.

Georgia's Bryden MacPherson posted a 6 and 4 win over Bengtsson to give Georgia the first point. Newman responded with a 7 and 5 win over T.J. Mitchell. Russell Henley put the Bulldogs up 2-1 with his 3 and 2 victory over Norlander.

Krywulycz evened the match at 2-all when he closed out Hudson Swafford at No. 17 for a 2 and 1 win. Reed added the final point, besting Harris English 2 and 1.

"I'm real proud of the way our guys played and the way they battled," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "My hats off to the Augusta State guys. They're a great team and they really played some outstanding golf."

Floyd, the team's sixth man who showed up to support his team Sunday, overcame flu-like symptoms to help Augusta State win its first national championship. Bengtsson, who replaced Floyd in the lineup, helped the Jaguars return to match play, which gave the team a shot to repeat. In the second round, when Krywulycz struggled, Bengtsson shot 75 to keep Augusta State in seventh place entering the final round of match play. On Thursday, winds kicked up and scores climbed higher, but the Jaguars shot 1-over on the final four holes to finish seventh and advance to the match play quarterfinals.

"Everyone did exactly what they needed to do," Krywulycz said. "When push came to shove, everyone made their putts when they had to."

One day after holing three clutch putts in a row to defeat Oklahoma State, Newman told his teammates he didn't want to have to be the hero again. He didn't have to be.

Despite making bogey the first two holes, Newman led 2-up over Mitchell. Newman then chipped in from 40 yards out for birdie at No. 5 to go 3-up. From there, he wouldn't let up, extending his match to 5-up through nine.

"I really felt comfortable," Newman said. "I had it in control. Unfortunately, T.J. didn't play his best."

Krywulycz held a 3-up lead through seven holes, but Swafford rallied to win Nos. 8 and 9. Krywulcyz remained in the lead with a 10-foot par putt at No. 11. He birdied the next hole and then extended his lead to 3-up with a two-putt birdie from 40 feet at the par-5 14th.

With a 2-up lead at No. 17, Krywulycz hit his second shot left into the water. Swafford faced a downhill, 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe, but he only got it halfway there. After Krywulycz wedged his fourth to five feet, Swafford's par attempt slid by.

Krywulycz who misread a putt on the same line two days earlier took his time, stepped back and asked coach Josh Gregory about a second read. They agreed on inside right. Krywulycz's putt sneaked in the right side for Augusta State's second point.

It all came down to Reed, who transferred from Georgia after his first year. Against his former teammate, Reed shot 1-under on the front nine to remain all square. English double-bogeyed No. 10 to go 1-down.

Reed missed the green at the par-3 11th, but he got up and down from the hillside rough to remain ahead. He later got up and down from 41 yards out at No. 13, punching a pitching wedge underneath a tree limb to five feet. The par gave him a 2-up lead, which he took to the par-4 17th.

English hit his tee shot into the right rough before hooking his approach into the water. He later missed a 30-foot bogey putt. It was enough of a cushion to allow Reed to hit his third over the green, just short of the water. He pitched back to seven feet, needing two putts for the win. He lagged to within a foot, and English conceded.

Augusta State's coaches, players and celebrated at No. 17 before taking part of the national championship ceremony.

"It's bittersweet," Reed said. "We're happy we won again, but we're sad that it's over. Everybody's going in different directions. We're going to miss each other."

Two for the road
Reed to begin pro career next week
Augusta State fans cheer on golf team at home
Augusta State repeats as national champs

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