Facing a three-foot par putt for the win, Greg Eason remembered back to last year.
In the 2013 3M Augusta Invitational, Eason played the 18th hole five times in a sudden-death playoff, eventually falling to Coastal Carolina’s Sebastian Soderberg. Holding a one-shot lead at No. 18 this time around, Eason didn’t want another repeat.
The Central Florida senior closed strong with 4-under-par 68 to defeat Virginia Tech’s Scott Vincent by one shot Sunday at Forest Hills Golf Club.
After opening with rounds of 66-71, Eason finished with an 11-under-par 205 total. He birdied Nos. 15 and 17 and watched his 35-foot birdie attempt at the last hole lip out. Needing to convert a short par attempt to avoid another sudden-death playoff, Eason rolled in the putt with confidence.
“That was a good experience,” Eason said of his runner-up showing last year. “It made me concentrate a little more on that 3-footer. I didn’t fancy another (playoff).”
Vincent birdied three of the final five holes to post 69 and a runner-up finish. Baylor’s Kyle Jones shot 31 on the back nine for 68 to place third, two shots out. South Carolina’s Matt NeSmith, of North Augusta, was the low local finisher, recording 71 for 213 and an 11th-place showing.
In one of the strongest fields in the history of Georgia Regents University’s home tournament – eight of the 14 Division I teams entered ranked in the top 25 – No. 9 Central Florida held off No. 18 Texas for a one-shot victory.
The Knights posted 6-under-par 282 in the final round for an 18-under 846 total. The Longhorns, the two-time defending champs, posted 283 in the final round, including a 1-over effort on the short par-4 18th. Virginia Tech carded 285 and placed third, four shots off the pace.
Central Florida notched its fourth win in nine events this year. Aside from Eason’s contribution, Ricardo Gouveia shot 71 in the final round and finished sixth, while Kyle Wilshire shot 70 to tie for eighth.
“We’ve been playing pretty good, but nothing had really clicked all year,” Eason said. “It’s really good to see us all coming together at the right time of the year.”
Georgia Regents, which began the day in eighth, needed to make a charge to have any chance of finishing fourth to qualify for postseason play. The Jaguars got off to a fast start and pulled within a shot of fourth place through six holes. Then, they played the final three holes of the front nine at 6-over.
The Jaguars closed with 291 and finished in eighth at 868. Georgia Regents failed to register a top-five finish in any of its nine full-field events and ended the season below .500 for the second consecutive year. Viktor Edin closed with 70 to tie for 12th place with 214 to lead Georgia Regents. Jaguar sophomore Maverick Antcliff (74) tied for 17th place.
“Through six holes, we did what we wanted to do,” Jaguars coach Jack O’Keefe said. “We had a chance. The guys are obviously disappointed, but I can’t fault their effort at all.”
USC Aiken, the No. 3 team in Division II and the only Division II team in the field, closed with 288. The Pacers finished in 14th place at 885, four shots ahead of Clemson (311).
USC Aiken’s Brandon Robinson-Thompson shot 70 to tie for 30th place with teammate Hayden Letien (73).
3M Augusta Invitational
Forest Hills Golf Club
Team: 846-Central Florida (287-277-282). 847-Texas (284-280-283). 850-Virginia Tech (280-285-285). 852-Illinois (288-281-283). 861-Baylor (282-291-288). 866-Houston (282-289-295). 867-Purdue (292-283-292). 868-Georgia Regents (292-285-291). 869-South Carolina (300-284-285). 872-Tennessee (296-283-293), New Mexico (295-286-291). 882-Coastal Carolina (291-293-298). 883-TCU (293-299-291). 885-USC Aiken (304-293-288). 889-Clemson (284-294-311).
Individual: 205-Greg Eason, Central Florida (66-71-68). 206-Scott Vincent, Virginia Tech (68-69-69). 207-Kyle Jones, Baylor (68-71-68). 208-Thomas Detry, Illinois (71-68-69); Toni Hakula, Texas (71-70-67). 209-Ricardo Gouveia, Central Florida (71-67-71). 210-Trevor Cone, Virginia Tech (70-70-70). 212-Kramer Hickok (70-69-73); Curtis Reed, Houston (70-72-70); Kyle Wilshire, Central Florida (75-67-70).
Other scores of interest: 213-Matt NeSmith, South Carolina (74-68-71). 214-Viktor Edin, Georgia Regents (75-69-70). 215-Maverick Antcliff, Georgia Regents (70-71-74). 219-Hayden Letien, USC Aiken (74-72-73); Brandon Robinson-Thompson, USC Aiken (73-76-70). 221-Cody Shafer, Georgia Regents (73-73-75). 222-Gaines Milliner, USC Aiken (77-73-72). 224-Meechai Padung, Georgia Regents (76-72-76); Alex Wennstam, Georgia Regents (74-78-72). 228-Kyle Godsman, USC Aiken (80-75-73). 230-Stephane Boudreau, USC Aiken (81-73-76).