Augusta State golf coach Kevin McPherson doesn’t need much to fire up his young squad.
If the Jaguars need any motivation to make it back to the 2013 NCAA Division I Championship, all they need to do is look at a map. The national tournament will be held three hours away at Capital City Club (Crabapple Golf Course) in Woodstock, Ga.
“That gives us a little extra pep for making it,” McPherson said. “That’s almost like a home tournament being that close down the road.”
Two-time national champion Augusta State begins its fall season today in the Northern Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The 54-hole event concludes Sunday.
The Jaguars play five events in the fall and four in the spring. Augusta State will play in the Palmetto Intercollegiate, March 11-12, in Aiken before playing host to its home event, April 6-7, at Forest Hills Golf Club.
Junior Alex Wennstam, one of five returners on the seven-man squad, won team qualifying after opening with rounds of 66-67 at Forest Hills Golf Club to earn a spot on the traveling squad. He will be joined in the starting lineup for the first tournament with senior Derek Chang, sophomore Robin Petersson, sophomore Cody Shafer and freshman Meechai Padung. Freshman Jack Heasman will play as an individual. Freshman Viktor Edin likely will get a shot to play in another fall event.
“It’s a young team,” said Petersson, who posted the second-lowest scoring average last season at 73.97. “There’s definitely a lot of potential. I think it’s all about getting a lot of experience and playing as much as possible.”
“We’re pretty young,” Shafer said. “Hopefully, we can continue to get better over the years.”
Highly-touted Australian golfer Maverick Antcliff will officially join the team in January. Antcliff was forced to establish a year of residency in the United States before becoming eligible.
Despite losing every starter off its 2011 national championship squad, Augusta State made postseason play last season. In the Athens Regional, the Jaguars fell four shots short of advancing back to the NCAA Championships.
“We were all sad,” Wennstam said. “It was very disappointing. We had a really tough finish.”
“Our ultimate team goal was to make it back to nationals,” McPherson said. “And being that close gave us a taste of what it takes.”
For McPherson and his young team, making it back back to the regionals is a minor goal. The major one? Playing for another national title in the Peach State.