Augusta State men's golf coach Josh Gregory put the pieces to the puzzle together during the 2005-2006 season, the lone year in his tenure the Jaguars failed to advance to postseason play.
First, he brought in home-schooler Carter Newman, a hard worker whose father, Dean, played for the program in the late 1970s. Then, he added Mitch Krywulycz, a talented amateur from Australia with a sometimes fiery temper. Gregory also signed Olle Bengtsson, a level-headed Swede making the adjustment to American golf.
All three players red-shirted their first season. The extra year added a layer of maturity and playing experience.
The following year, former Jaguar Kalle Edberg suggested that fellow Swede Henrik Norlander look at Augusta State after a transcript problem at Minnesota led him to find another school. Two years later, Patrick Reed left Georgia in search of a new school. He spurned Florida and Wake Forest for Augusta State.
At the start of 2009, Gregory knew he had a special team.
"This is probably as excited as I've ever been," he said at the time.
Throw into the mix Taylor Floyd, who was the state's fifth-ranked junior when he gravitated to Gregory and signed early in November 2007. Floyd helped the team win its first national championship, but he changed his swing last summer and didn't see immediate results. Floyd, and freshman Alex Wennstam, pushed for the fifth spot, but they ultimately lost the postseason qualifier, a six-round event won by Bengtsson.
When Augusta State traveled in late May to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. to defend its national championship, it did so with a talented, cohesive squad. And the Jaguars had an intangible that many teams didn't.
"They love to win. They love to beat somebody. No fear. Everything you dream of as a coach," Gregory said. "Are they the most talented? I don't know. Probably not. But do they love to win? Do they love to compete? Do they never give up? Yeah. All the things that hopefully epitomizes our program and what I stand for as a coach."
While the Jaguars only won one of nine regular-season tournaments, the team finished among the top three seven times. Augusta State then placed second at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
The Jaguars, who got a sneak peek at Karsten Creek Golf Club in the fall with three rounds in the PING/Golfweek Preview, were back feeling prepared for the NCAA Division I Golf Championship.
Finishing stroke play as one of the top eight teams and advancing to match play would not be easy. But the Jaguars felt confident.
Augusta State opened in the afternoon off the No. 1 tee paired with Florida and Georgia Tech, two familiar opponents. The Jaguars got off to a fast start, with birdies by Reed at Nos. 1 and 3, and they briefly led the tournament at 3-under.
Things turned south in a hurry. Reed and Norlander each lipped out short putts on the front nine. The team made the turn at 3-over, and Norlander's rough day continued. The two-time All-American sprayed the ball off the tee and carded 80, his worst round of the past two years -- just his third round in the 80s as a collegian.
Augusta State stood at 9-over through 15 holes, but Krywulycz birdied the last for 71, while Newman closed with birdie-par for 74. Reed added birdie at No. 17 for 69 to tie for third place individually, two shots off the lead.
Bengtsson, who didn't play in the PING/Golfweek Preview and saw the course for just the second time, shot a noncounting 86.
Augusta State opened with 6-over-par 294. The Jaguars were tied for ninth place, 11 shots behind leader Georgia Tech.
"We're in fine position," Reed said. "We always struggle in the first round. People keep on asking why. I have no clue."
If Augusta State was going to make a move, the team needed Norlander to rebound. Gregory, who walked with Norlander during the opening round, had faith in his senior.
"Every now and then you play badly, and he did today," Gregory said. "But there's no doubt in my mind he'll be there for us the next two days and hopefully for three days of match play."