NORTH AUGUSTA --- A long day of disc golf came to an end with drama at the final two holes at the Hippodrome course Saturday night.
Augusta State's Jason Lynn stepped up to the tee on "Treasure Isle" with a one-stroke lead as the sun set over large crowd of disc golfers, tournament officials and fans.
"I'd be lying if I told you I didn't feel the pressure," Lynn said afterwards.
But his disc flew true and stuck on the hole's small "island," and his National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship individual crown was sealed moments later when the long putt of Clemson's Connor Thompson bounced off the basket chains and out of bounds.
The deciding shot, though, might have come the hole before, when Thompson's drive went long and into the pond. That resulted in a double bogey, and Lynn's par vaulted him into the lead.
Lynn took a two-stroke lead into the final round after the top three golfers finished a lightning-delayed first round at four-under on the easier Hogback course.
Before the final round started, Clemson's Austin Finley said the Hippo course was going to play tougher than it did on Friday.
"The wind's picked up, and (tournament director Pete May) made it longer," Finley said. "It's going to be treacherous."
His words quickly proved prophetic, as the top four golfers all threw their drives out of bounds or into the woods. Thompson recovered remarkably, though, shooting 4-under-par 27 in blustery winds that knocked Oregon's Nate Bush and Alabama-Huntsville's Blake Terrell out of contention.
Excellent putting and an impressive array of forehand and backhand throws helped Thompson jump from fourth to four strokes ahead of Lynn as they stepped up to the 10th tee.
It looked eerily like it would be a repeat of last year, when Lynn lost a six-shot lead in the final round.
But after a short delay while waiting for the group ahead of him, Thompson sent his two drive attempts out of bounds on the difficult downhill par 5 10th. Lynn saw an opportunity, and he shot an eagle to tie the score.
After he dropped his disc in the basket a final time, the relieved champion claimed his trophy.
"It was so awesome," he said. "It felt so good. I'm really, really excited right now."