Carter Newman had every reason to be scared as he stepped to the first tee Saturday morning.
Augusta State faced not just Oklahoma State on its home course. The Jaguars found themselves playing in a Ryder Cup-style match with 5,000 Cowboys fans in orange shirts. The applause and cheers were so loud, Patrick Reed asked assistant coach Kevin McPherson on the first tee if they were playing football.
It might have felt like a different sport, but the Jaguars used Hail Mary-like plays on the closing holes to stun the Pokes and their fans. The unsinkable Newman drained the three biggest putts of his life, the unstoppable Reed throttled the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and the unfazed Henrik Norlander shut down the local favorite.
For the third year in a row, Oklahoma State entered the NCAA Championship as the nation's No. 1 team. The Cowboys were ousted from match play by Georgia in 2009. Last year, Augusta State defeated Oklahoma State, 3-1-1, in the final match.
This time, the Cowboys were a heavy favorite. Oklahoma State had every asset -- enormous financial backing, valuable course knowledge and vociferous fans. They even had two of the world's top amateurs in No. 1-ranked Peter Uihlein, who played in the Masters Tournament in April, and No. 3-ranked Kevin Tway.
They were primed to get even with Augusta State. And it appeared Oklahoma State would do just that, with the match tied at 2-all.
Earlier in the day, Reed blistered Uihlein from the start en route to an 8 and 7 blowout. After Uihlein blew his drive into the rough at No. 10, he told Reed he was ready for the match to be over.
Norlander then knocked out Tway, who grew up an hour away from Karsten Creek, 3 and 1.
Oklahoma State notched its first point when Talor Gooch grabbed an 7 and 5 win over Olle Bengtsson. Then, Morgan Hoffman defeated Mitch Krywulycz, 1-up.
All the focus turned to the Newman-Sean Einhaus match. Newman, whose only match play defeat in 2010 was to Einhaus, led most of the round. But a Newman double bogey at No. 16 dropped the match to all square.
Einhaus reached the green in two at 17. Newman, a straight-hitter, missed his second fairway in a row and then hit a lay up into the right rough. After Newman hit a sand wedge to the back of the green, Einhaus had an enormous edge.
From 35 feet out, the Oklahoma State sophomore two-putted for par. The Cowboys fans went wild. Newman ignored the noise and sized up the putt.
McPherson, Augusta State's women's coach serving as the team's assistant, caught up with Newman in the fairway. When Newman faced the 30-foot, throat-tightening downhill attempt, he asked McPherson for a read. McPherson told him to aim a foot outside of the left edge.
When the ball fell into the cup, the normally reserved Newman unleashed a "Let's go!" and pumped his fist.
He wasn't done.
At No. 18, Einhaus got up and down from the front bunker. Newman chipped up from 30 yards out to five feet.
Facing a putt to extend Augusta State's season, Newman drilled the ball in the center of the cup.
On the first hole of sudden death, the par-5 14th, Newman knocked his 30-yard chip to six feet. From about the same distance, Einhaus chunked his third from the rough before almost holing his fourth shot. Einhaus dropped a seven-foot par putt .
Newman stepped up and eyed a similar putt to one he missed earlier in the day at 14. The first time he played the hole, he aimed outside the right edge and the putt lipped out.
This time, he aimed inside the right edge. When the ball disappeared, the Jaguars celebrated on the green.
Augusta State players rushed up and threw their arms around Newman. As Bengtsson and coach Josh Gregory embraced him, Newman, still in shock, said, "I can't believe I did that."
With Captain Clutch's performance, Augusta State advanced to play Georgia in the championship match. Reed knew the Bulldogs all too well.
He was more than ready.