Everything was eerily falling into place for Augusta State. Just like in 2010, the Jaguars survived stroke play to advance to the final eight. And just like the previous year, Augusta State would face Georgia Tech in the match play quarterfinals.
The Yellow Jackets are one of the most prestigious programs in golf history. Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur of all time and a co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club, played for Georgia Tech. Major champions Stewart Cink (British Open), David Duval (British Open) and Larry Mize (Masters Tournament) all played for the Yellow Jackets, along with emerging PGA Tour star Matt Kuchar.
Augusta State already had proved it wasn't intimidated by Georgia Tech's history. In 2010, Patrick Reed rolled in a 15-foot putt at No. 18 on top of Chesson Hadley's 30-foot birdie to win 1-up and provide the pivotal point in the Jaguars' 3-2 win.
This time around, Reed wouldn't need the final hole. He birdied three of the first six holes and pulled off a 3 and 2 win over fellow first-team All-American James White, of Georgia Tech.
With Reed rolling on the front nine, Augusta State appeared to be in good shape. Fifth man Olle Bengtsson went out first and shot 1-under on the first seven holes to build a 5-up lead over Richy Werenski. The match soon slipped away from Bengtsson, though. Werenski rallied to win Nos. 8 and 9 and eventually won 1-up, on the 19th hole.
Henrik Norlander and J.T. Griffin went back and forth and were all square when the Augusta State senior pull-hooked his tee shot at 14. Norlander eventually made double bogey, losing the first of three holes in a row. With Griffin's 3 and 2 win, the Yellow Jackets led two matches and needed one more point to exact revenge. It all came down to Augusta State's redheads: Carter Newman and Mitch Krywulcyz.
Newman, who defeated Paul Haley last year, dug a three-hole deficit the first six holes against his old foe. But he rallied to win four holes in a row, getting up and down for par from the bunker at No. 7, draining a 30-foot par putt at No. 8 and then spinning a lob wedge from 100 yards out to inches for birdie at the par-5 ninth before taking No. 10.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to turn it around or not," Newman said. "He was making solid pars, and I was making mistakes."
The match was all square through 16 holes. Then, Newman seized an opportunity, dropping a five-foot par putt at No. 17 to go 1-up. At the par-5 18th, Newman reached the green in two and two-putted for birdie from 70 feet to win his match, 2-up, and tie the team match.
Behind Newman, Krywulycz posted his own back-nine rally. After bogeying No. 13 to fall 1-down, he rebounded with an up-and-down birdie from 60 yards out at the par-5 14th to square his match with Kyle Scott. Two holes later, Krywulycz sank a 12-foot, left-to-right par putt to remain all square.
At No. 17, Krywulycz put the previous day behind him. While Scott missed the green and failed to get up and down, the senior from Australia reached the green in two and two-putted for par from 40 feet out to claim a 1-up lead.
Then, the long-hitting Krywulycz bombed a drive into the fairway at the last and followed with a 6-iron to 40 feet. He two-putted for birdie, winning his match, 1-up.
"To see Carter pull it off in the end, and the same thing with Mitch, it's special. It keeps us alive," Reed said.
"We're grinders. Our backs were up against the wall. Since we're all leaving, we're leaving nothing out there. We're going for it all."
With its 3-2 win, Augusta State advanced to face Oklahoma State in a rematch of last year. This time, they would compete on the Cowboys' home turf.
"Dream matchup," Jaguars coach Josh Gregory said. "Nothing to lose. Playing the best team in the country on their home course in front of all those people wearing orange, we've talked about that since last year. We couldn't dream of a better scenario than to actually come back and have a chance to play those guys.
"I don't know how we'll play. I have no clue. But I know however we play, these guys will not be scared."