Augusta, Ga., is home to the PGA’s most revered tournament, the New World’s most majestic course, and the Medical College of Georgia, a large number of whose graduates hit the links on a regular basis. Augusta, Ga., also is home to Augusta State University, whose Jaguars won the 2010 NCAA men’s golf title and defended it successfully in 2011, claiming a 3-2 triumph over the Georgia Bulldogs in the national championship finals on Sunday.
Georgia’s Bryden MacPherson and Augusta State’s Olle Bengtsson were all square after six holes, but the Athenian took the next three holes and, after a tie on the tenth, won three of the next four to claim victory in his duel with his Jaguar counterpart.
The Bulldogs’ T.J. Mitchell did not fare so well in his clash with Carter Newman. Mitchell dropped the first two holes and managed only ties on the next two before Newman surged ahead, taking three of four between the fifth and the eighth. Amid ties on three of the next five holes, Newman carded wins on 11 and 13 to give the match to Augusta State.
ASU’s Mitchell Krywulycz opened his match with UGA’s Hudson Swafford by capturing four holes in a row, followed by a pair of ties. It was then that Swafford began to make his move, winning the next three holes to whittle Krywulycz’s advantage to one. The next six holes produced four ties, but the Augusta State linkster prevailed on the other two holes to build his advantage back to three. Swafford won the 16th hole by a stroke to put Krywulycz up by two with two to go, but a tie on 17 gave the match to ASU.
Russell Henley of the Bulldogs and Henrik Norlander of the Jaguars were all square after four holes before the Classic City golfer inched out in front on the fifth. Henley was up three after the tenth, but a tie on eleven and an exchange of 3-4 victories kept that lead unchanged after 13, enabling Henley to card a win for the Red and Black with ties on 15 and 16.
That just left Georgia’s Harris English and Augusta State’s Patrick Reed, who were even after nine holes in what was to be the national championship-deciding match. Reed took the tenth hole, 5-6, and stayed up by one through two ensuing ties. Reed’s 4-5 win on the 13th hole put him up two, and there he stayed through three straight ties on 14, 15, and 16. Another tie on 17 gave the match, and a second consecutive national championship, to Augusta State.
Though the result is disheartening, it is encouraging that the Bulldogs made it as far as the finals to claim national runner-up status after arriving in Stillwater as the twelfth-seeded squad and advancing to match play seeded fifth. The Georgia men’s golf team finished second in the state . . . and, this year, that meant finishing second in all the land.