2005: College - Jaquars lasso top-ranked Cowboys
Notre Dame, Ind.
Josh Gregory now owns several significant victories since taking over as Augusta State coach three years ago, but there’s little doubt which triumph he considers his sweetest. Winning the NCAA Division I Central Regional at Notre Dame’s taxing Warren Golf Course against the deepest of the three regional fields would have been a lofty accomplishment in itself – but how the Jaguars completed the conquest added some serious style points.
They slew college golf’s tallest giant.
Having broken away from the field along with No. 1 Oklahoma State through 36 holes, Augusta went head-to-head with the best team in the land the final round – and prevailed convincingly. Augusta shot 1-over-par 281 to turn a three-shot deficit into a nine-shot victory, finishing at 9-over 849. The margin of victory would have been wider had the Jaguars not made a couple of double bogeys on the final hole.
To make the day nearly perfect, Augusta’s Kalle Edberg, a long-hitting senior from Sweden, seized medalist honors, shooting 5-under 205. In a spirited anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better matchup with Pablo Martin, OSU’s freshman sensation, Edberg (3-under 67) holed a 30-foot bunker shot for eagle-3 at the penultimate hole to inch past Martin (71) by a stroke.
The victory marked Augusta’s first NCAA regional title, and prevented OSU, which closed with 293, from collecting its sixth.
“This is huge for the program, huge for our guys,” said Gregory. “In my three years here, we’ve won 10 times. The one next week (NCAA Championship) is the one we’d really like to win, but this definitely is the biggest win so far.”
Texas A&M, Tulsa, defending Central champion Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, SMU, Texas and Purdue rounded out the teams qualifying for the NCAA Championship June 1-4 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. Arkansas made the grade by shooting the tournament’s low round (278), and Purdue earned its way by outlasting Wichita State in a one-hole playoff.
But the show belonged to Augusta, which is playing its best golf of the season at a very opportune time. The Jaguars golf team is the only Division I athletic program on its tiny Georgia campus, which in a way makes it the equal of the football team at big-time schools. A year ago, Augusta arrived to its regional with the goal of just getting through – and didn’t.
So this time, the team’s three seniors – Edberg, Scott Jamieson (who tied for seventh) and Emmett Turner – joined Gregory in formulating a far more aggressive game plan: Let’s win.
“We talked about winning all week,” said Gregory, “before we even got here. Our last three events, we finished tied for first (The Hootie at Bulls Bay), first (ASU Invitational) and then second (The Maxwell). When you have a team that can contend, you’re in a much better mindset to go out and try to win the thing.”
Martin, a Spaniard who won two of his first college starts, had designs on adding yet another title in his first regional go-around. He opened 65-70, and twice proved magical from the fairway, holing 9-irons for eagles on par-4 holes in each of the first two rounds. Two double bogeys out of greenside bunkers proved costly, however, especially against a foe as tough as Edberg, his friend and future Palmer Cup teammate.
Martin and the Cowboys were thankful they’ll have a chance to avenge their defeats.
“It is what it is,” said disappointed OSU coach Mike Holder. “They always say you’re supposed to learn more when you play poorly. So we should have learned a lot today. We’ll see.”