CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Mitch Krywulycz was the only player who hadn’t won a match for Augusta State all week. So he wasn’t counting on being the one to clinch the Jaguars’ NCAA championship over golf powerhouse Oklahoma State.
Krywulycz and Kevin Tway were all square through 18, and he thought the pair would halve the 19th hole. Then Tway’s 3-foot put skirted the hole for a bogey, giving Krywulycz the win and sixth-seeded Augusta State its first title in 11 tries with a 3-1-1 victory at The Honors Course on Sunday.
“I thought that he would make it,” Krywulycz said. “You have to just think the unexpected is going to happen. He is a great player and putter, and I just thought he would have made it.”
Tway crouched in the shadow of his bag as three of Krywulycz’s teammates and the team’s fans crowded around the hole with screams of celebration.
“I waited 21 years to play something like this, and to have it end this way is pretty sickening to my stomach,” Tway said. “I guess you just take it and try to learn from it and see if I can do better next time.”
Top-seeded Oklahoma State was clearly the favorite, having made every NCAA Division I men’s tournament in the 64-year history of the championship and winning 10 titles along the way. Nearly every Cowboys golfer has won a title at some point during his college career, including Tway’s father, Bob Tway, who was on the championship Oklahoma State team in 1980.
Golf is big at Augusta State too, despite the lack of national championships. It’s the only sport where the Jaguars compete at the Division I level – they compete in Division II in nine others.
“It means everything. It is a dream come true,” said coach Josh Gregory, who competed in the 1996 national championship at The Honors Course with SMU. “It has validated the success of the coaches before me and the players before them. College golf means something to Augusta, Ga., and it doesn’t happen without us.”
Instead of the Cowboys dominating, it was Augusta State that took large, unchallenged leads early.
Henrik Norlander was 6-up by the eighth hole thanks to some of his own birdies and three bogeys from Morgan Hoffmann, who struggled to hit the fairway. Norlander won the first match 5 and 4.
Patrick Reed finished quickly after Norlander, using his fourth birdie of the day to grab a 5-up lead over Peter Uihlein on the 12th hole. He finished with a 4-and-2 victory.
But Sean Einhaus took the next match for the Cowboys, a 2-and-1 win over Carter Newman, and Tway held a 4-up lead after 11 holes. That appeared to leave the Jaguars’ hopes on the shoulders of Taylor Floyd, who played sick Saturday and had his match with Trent Whitekiller on Sunday delayed so he could receive extra fluids before heading onto the hot course.
“For him to even be able to play golf today is remarkable,” Gregory said. “I didn’t think he would be able to go today, but he told me, ‘Coach, there is no way I would miss it for the world.’ For him to play and fight it and somehow finish his match today and yesterday is unreal.”
Despite appearing flushed and walking slowly behind Whitekiller and the gallery of fans following the pair’s match, Floyd managed to lead 1-up through 12 holes.
That’s when Krywulycz made his comeback.
Tway bogeyed the 12th hole to drop to 3-up, and Krywulycz birdied the next hole, giving him a little extra confidence. Then he birdied the next two holes to make the match all square at the 15th. The pair matched par for par for the rest of the match, sending it to the 19th hole, where Krywulycz made par and Tway bogeyed.
“This team should figure out something to learn from this to make yourself a better player, as should Tway,” Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw said.