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Jag finds his secret weapon

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Two days before competing in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, Janne Kaske walked into Bonaventure Golf and tried out a few putters.

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Kaske is the Jaguars' hottest player entering the Augusta State Invitational, which returns to Forest Hills today after a three-year run at Champions Retreat.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Kaske is the Jaguars' hottest player entering the Augusta State Invitational, which returns to Forest Hills today after a three-year run at Champions Retreat.

He finally picked out a used Ping Doc 17, something that looks more like a spaceship than a flatstick.

"Best 75 dollars I've ever spent in my life," he said.

With his new putter, Kaske solved his putting woes en route to his first career collegiate victory Tuesday. Now, he'll try to win for the second time in a week.

Kaske and his Jaguar teammates return home for the Augusta State Invitational, a 54-hole event which begins at 8:30 a.m. today. Augusta State is seeking its first home win since 2005, the last year the event was held at Forest Hills. The past three years, the 17-team tournament was held at Champions Retreat Golf Club.

"It's such a massive advantage having it at Forest Hills," junior Jake Amos said. "It wasn't an advantage for us at Champions Retreat."

The Jaguars will try to build off the momentum of winning the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, their first team win in four years. Kaske's career effort, combined with sophomore Henrik Norlander's third top-10 finish, Amos' 11th-place showing and freshman Taylor Floyd's tie for 29th place, helped Augusta State go wire to wire for the eight-shot win.

"I think we all knew we were capable of winning," Floyd said. "This has been a long time coming."

Kaske, who shot three consecutive 77s nine days earlier in the Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational, improved by 32 shots. The Augusta State senior shot 17-under-par to tie a school record.

"I don't know where that came from," Augusta State coach Josh Gregory said. "If he putts like that, he can beat anybody."

Kaske, who didn't have a three-putt at the Hootie at Bulls Bay event, entered averaging more than 34 putts a round. Before the tournament, Gregory helped change Kaske's setup. He also challenged him to focus mainly on putting.

Kaske responded, spending two hours a day the past three weeks strictly on the putting green.

"I know my ball-striking has always been there," Kaske said. "I haven't been putting well enough to win."

With the help of Kaske, Augusta State has all but locked up a berth in postseason play. And Kaske himself has found a putter he can stick with for the rest of the year.

"I know I'm not cured yet," he said. "I may putt horrendous this weekend. But if I putt like I did last week, I know I can contend."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

THE TOURNAMENT

WHAT: Administaff Augusta State Invitational (a two-day, 54-hole event)

WHO: 17 teams

WHEN: Thirty-six holes are scheduled for today, starting at 8:30 a.m.; the final round begins at 9 a.m. Sunday

WHERE: Forest Hills, which is playing host to the event for the first time since 2005; Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans played host to the event the past three years

HOME COURSE ADVANTAGE? Augusta State won the tournament the last time it was played at Forest Hills.


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