Augusta State won’t have a chance for a three-peat. The Jaguars, who last year became the first team in 26 years to win back-to-back national titles, finished seventh – four shots behind fifth-place Iowa – at the Southeast Regional and didn’t qualify for this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Championship. They had lost all five starters from last year’s national-title team to graduation or the pro ranks. Kevin McPherson, in his first year as head coach after replacing Josh Gregory, spoke with Golfweek after the Jaguars’ final round in Athens, Ga.:
What are your thoughts on the week?
It’s definitely bittersweet. We had an opportunity to make a run toward the end but came up a little short. It’s amazing that you can count up 870 shots throughout the entire week and it comes down to just four of them – really, a shot per man.
Did this team meet your expectations?
We weren’t that far off from being a top-25 team, like we set out to be. (Augusta State is ranked 44th.) We certainly showed signs of being that good, and we’ve got a team now where our No. 5 man can beat our No. 1 man on certain occasions. It’s nice to have that kind of depth.
Were you surprised how well they played, given the roster turnover?
I knew what these guys could do. I think a lot of people didn’t believe that we were as good as we said we could be, but only because they haven’t seen these guys. They’ve seen one player, Taylor Floyd. But they didn’t see Robin (Petersson) and Alex (Wennstam), and I know what kind of potential they have. From that perspective, it was a pleasing year. But it would have been that much sweeter to finish four or five shots better.
What did you learn this year?
That every shot matters. I’ve been saying that my whole life, but you can always look back at wasted opportunities. I think it’s a huge learning experience for them that they were able to get that close.