Mitch Krywulycz already had enrolled at Georgia Southern. Then, he met Augusta State golf coach Josh Gregory.
Instantly, the Australian golfer found a coach who is personable, has a hands-off work philosophy and is one of the top amateurs in the Southeast. Krywulycz, now a junior, was sold immediately.
"I like having a friendship with coach," Krywulycz said. "And I like that he lets you figure out your golf game yourself. I think that's why this team is turning it around. Everybody's starting to figure out their golf games."
Gregory will have a chance to make history and get redemption this week when No. 5 Augusta State bids for its first national title. He played in the only other NCAA Division I Golf Championships at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., finishing in a tie for 60th place for Southern Methodist University. Gregory finished 27 shots behind medalist Tiger Woods while his team finished in 12th place.
"I know what it would mean to this university and to the city of Augusta," said the 35-year-old Gregory, who is married. "This would be a big thing."
The Jaguars are making their fourth national championship appearance in Gregory's eight years. His first squad in 2002-03 won six tournaments, was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation and finished seventh in the nationals.
Gregory's 2004-05 squad won four events (three in the spring), including a victory in the Central Regional, but it sputtered to a 10th-place finish in the national championship. His young 2007-08 team finished second in the East Regional, but it never contended in the finals, placing 29th.
Winning a national championship is no longer a pipe dream, because of the additions made under Gregory. Augusta State added the J. Fleming Norvell Golf House and state-of-the-art practice facility in 2007. With that, better players and Gregory at the helm, the Jaguars have a legitimate shot at winning their biggest tournament this week.
"That's been my goal since day one. And it can be done," Gregory said. "Many people may think I'm crazy thinking it can be done at a place like Augusta State, but if you've got good players it can happen. We now have the players."