June 6, 2010

SIDEBAR: Gutting It Out

Final Bracket/Match Results

By Bucky Dent

Special to NCAA.com

OOLTEWAH, Tenn. -- After falling behind four holes to Oklahoma State's Keith Tway with seven holes left Sunday at The Honors Course, Augusta State's Mitch Krywulyczwas frustrated.

"Then I was lucky enough to win the 12th hole," Krywulycz said, "and then I figured I'd see what happened."

What happened were consecutive birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15 to tie the match, then a gutty par on 18 to force extra holes.

When Tway's 6-foot par putt on the first playoff hole slid right of the cup, Krywulycz and Augusta State celebrated their first NCAA Division I men's golf national championship 3 1/2-1 1/2.

While Tway looked at the ground, perhaps still trying to figure out how the putt missed, Krywulycz accepted bear hugs from teammates. Some Jaguar fans shrieked in delight and others gathered for pictures with players.

For a second straight day, Augusta State coach Josh Gregory couldn't hold back his emotions.

"It was almost surreal," he said of the moment he raised the national championship trophy. "You always dream about how the moment will go, but you don't know how it will feel.

"When the guys came running up to me and (started) giving me bear hugs, I was crying like a baby."

The school of more than 7,000 students -- or barely more than one-fifth the size of its opponent -- competes at Division II in every sport except golf. 

While they had made 10 NCAA appearances prior to this year, the Jaguars have never finished higher than fifth. They didn't even qualify for last year's tournament.

Augusta State came in this year as the No. 9 seed and finished sixth in stroke play, then dumped Georgia Tech and Florida State to reach the final. But it was an underdog against the 10-time NCAA champs.

The Cowboys were five shots better than anyone else in stroke play -- the second straight year they've emerged from that part of the event as the top seed -- then rolled to match-play wins over Stanford and Oregon.

But they never had solid footing in the championship match. Their top two players, Morgan Hoffmann and Peter Uihlein, did not reach the 17th hole in losing to Henrik Norlander and Patrick Reed, respectively.

OSU's only win on Sunday was by No. 5 Sean Einhaus, who took a 2 & 1 decision over Carter Newman. For most of the day, it appeared that Tway would add a second point.
 The son of former PGA Championship winner Bob Tway looked to be in great shape after 11 holes, but Krywulycz made his charge to tie the match and then his stunning par at No. 18 forced the extra hole. 

While Tway bombed a drive down the middle and then lofted an iron within 20 feet of the pin, Krywulycz had to chip out of the greenside rough after his second shot caromed right of the 18th green.

Krywulycz chipped within a couple of feet for his par and Tway missed his birdie putt to the right, sending the duo back to No. 1.

"I got pretty lucky with the lie," Krywulycz said. "I was pretty nervous but it was just a basic chip."

On the playoff hole, both players smoked drives down the middle and safely pitched on the green. Krywulycz's 25-foot birdie putt was about two feet short and Tway conceded the par, then shot his 20-footer six feet past.

Then came the failed par putt which will be etched forever in the memories of everyone from both programs.

"I waited 21 years for this moment," Tway said, "and to let it end like this is a pretty sickening feeling."

There was empathy for Tway on the Augusta State side, but there was also the feeling they've dreamed about having all week.

"This will always be a special place in my heart," Gregory said.