When members of the Augusta State golf team awoke Thursday morning, snow blanketed the ground in Utah.
This change in scenery is exactly what coach Josh Gregory wanted.
"This is an opportunity for the kids to see a part of the world they haven't seen before and see some teams they haven't seen before," he said. "This is a different environment."
Augusta State is seeking its fourth win of the year when it closes out its regular season in the Ping Cougar Classic in Provo, Utah. The 54-hole event runs today and Saturday.
As a Division I independent, Augusta State doesn't have a conference tournament in which to participate. So this week's event fills the gap.
"It's just another opportunity to play and get some more confidence," Gregory said.
The Jaguars, ranked third according to Golfweek , won their past tournament, the Augusta State Invitational, by 16 shots over South Carolina. Henrik Norlander, Patrick Reed and Mitch Krywulycz finished first, second and third, respectively.
Norlander, a junior who was selected for the European squad for the prestigious Palmer Cup later this year, leads the Jaguars with a 70.84 stroke average. Reed, a sophomore who's a semifinalist for the Hogan Award, is just behind at 71.11.
Krywulycz, who has a pair of top-10 finishes in his past four events, owns a 72.00 average. He is followed by Taylor Floyd (72.84) and Carter Newman (73.20).
Because of an almost three-week gap between its home event and the Ping Cougar Classic, Gregory and his team (excluding Norlander) entered last week's Terra Cotta Invitational to keep the competitive juices flowing. Reed finished third, while Newman tied for 16th. Krywulycz and Floyd finished 22nd and 24th, respectively.
Gregory said the tournament at Naples National Golf Club in Naples, Fla, provided his team an opportunity to play in tough conditions in preparation for postseason play.
"I think we're going to make that a regular stop," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better place to prepare."
After Saturday, the Jaguars are off until the NCAA Regionals, May 20-22, at a site yet to be determined. The Jaguars will find out which regional they're assigned to May 10.
The NCAA Championships will follow, June 1-5, in Ooltewah, Tenn., just outside of Chattanooga.
After exams next week, Augusta State will try to stay fresh by playing a selected rotation of tough courses, Gregory said.