Augusta State golf team meets Obama

WASHINGTON --- President Obama walked along the rope line shaking hands when he arrived upon Jake Amos.

He asked the former Jaguar where he's from, and Amos innocently replied, "England." When Obama clarified the question, Amos and his teammates boldly stated "Augusta."

"You guys are all scratch players?" Obama asked. "I need some help with my game."

After winning the NCAA Division I golf championship in June, Augusta State's team enjoyed an afternoon of cookies and lemonade on the White House's South Lawn. Later, they shook hands with the president.

"This is definitely one of the most special things I've been able to do," senior Carter Newman said. "It was pretty cool to shake hands with the president."

At a late-afternoon ceremony Monday, Obama honored 33 NCAA Division I national championship teams, including the South Carolina baseball team. At 5:45 p.m., Obama addressed the student-athletes for five minutes.

"I want to thank all the teams that have traveled from all over the country to be here. And congratulations on being NCAA champions," the president said in prepared remarks. "We've got over 650 athletes and almost 150 coaches and staff here today. This is the most athletic talent we've ever had on the South Lawn."

Augusta State won its first NCAA title when it defeated Oklahoma State in the final match at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. Meeting the president at the White House capped the team's celebration three months later.

"I expected him to just come out and say, 'Hi,'" junior Patrick Reed said. "For him to recognize every team was special."

Augusta State arrived at 9:30 a.m. in nearby Manassas, Va., via two private planes. From there, the team rode a bus to Washington, where it took tours of the U.S. Air Force Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and National World War II Memorial.

All 10 members of last season's team, accompanied by school President William A. Bloodworth Jr., Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, athletic director Clint Bryant, faculty athletic representative Donna Hobbs and sports information director Joey Warren, arrived at the South Lawn of the White House about 3:30 p.m.

Jaguar golf coach Josh Gregory missed the trip because his wife, Ashley, delivered their first child, James Baxley, a 7-pound, 10-ounce boy, at 4:38 a.m. Monday.

Amos would have missed the trip, too. Last season was his final one with the Jaguars, but he still needs 14 hours this fall to graduate in December with a sociology degree. If he had graduated in May, Amos said, he would have been overseas at European Tour Qualifying School.

"It's great I've been able to come," Amos said. "This is a nice surprise."

For the five starters off last year's team -- Reed, Newman, Taylor Floyd, Mitch Krywulycz and Henrik Norlander -- along with the five reserves (Amos, Olle Bengtsson, Jacob Carlsson, Brendan Gillins and Shawn Yim), the day is one they'll never forget.

"This is just what hard work will do," Newman said. "We never dreamed we'd be here with all these teams.

"It's going to be pretty cool to tell my kids one day."

Reality sets back in for the team today. Norlander has two tests and a presentation due, and sleep, he said, was not a main priority. The players will attend two days of classes before traveling to their first event of the fall.

"I'm stressed out," Norlander said, "but it's worth it."

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