Last year Augusta State was dubbed the little engine that could en route to winning the Division One national title. This year, they proved the little engine wasn't so little but was a finely tuned locomotive that could not be stopped. Didn't matter if it was the most storied program in golf history, Oklahoma State, or their so called big brother in Athens, Georgia, nobody was stopping this dominating Augusta State team.
A sports team can bring a community together and galvanize it. ASU has done just that. People are talking about golf not played off Washington Road.
There was one goal for this team all year, repeat and beat the best in the business, Oklahoma State, on their home course. Mission accomplished.
It all starts at the top with coach Josh Gregory. For nearly the past decade, Gregory has built this program into a top 10 team year after year, just nobody outside of Augusta knows about it. Golf isn't about money, it's about kids who love the game and can swing the clubs. ASU has a bunch of those guys.
Patrick Reed will go down as one of the greatest to ever wear the Jaguar colors. A perfect 6-0 in match play and a two time All American. Reed dominated folks in match play including the top ranked amateur in the nation, two straight years. The reigning amateur champ from the Cowboy program would just assume never play Reed again seeing he was throttled both times. Then today's victory, with the clinching point against Georgia was oh so sweet seeing Reed transferred from UGA after his freshman season. Reed told me recently he was there to play golf and their coach wanted him to interact more with the team on weekends and have a good time. Patrick had one goal in mind, become a pro, thus the reason he transferred to Augusta State.
Then you have Carter Newman. Local hero does good. This kid has earned the nickname Captain Clutch seeing he's been just that for the last two years, this year in particular. Newman changed putters here in the spring and then became a big time force down the stretch and in match play. Saturday's putting performance on 17, 18 and the playoff hole, will go down as one of the greatest in tournament history. Carter "Clutch" should be his new name.
Mitch Krywulycz and Henrik Norlander also played huge roles in this team's success. Norlander has been the number one guy on this squad most of the year and has plenty of accolades to back it up. The big Swede can play with the best of them and is the latest European to make his mark on the program. For Krywulycz, you probably can't say his name none the less spell it correctly, but talk about a big game golfer, this is it. Last year it was his extra hole win over Kevin Tway giving the Jags the first National Title. This year, his rock solid play proved invaluable again. When the chips where down and most knees were knocking, Mitch was the guy. We can't forget Olle Bengtsson either. This was his first appearance in the NCAA's and while he struggled at times, Bengtsson also hit some key shots during this run.
Now the team is done and the championship trophy is coming home. All five guys, and coach Gregory will be parting ways with Augusta State. Reed is playing in the PGA Tour event this week while the other four are seniors. Gregory, is taking the head coaching job at his Alma mater in Dallas at SMU. But when they have accomplished in the last 12 months ranks up there with some of the greatest college story lines of any sport. Remember, Augusta State plays one Division One sport, golf! And in the golf capital of the world, they do it right!