AUGUSTA, Ga. – Behind stellar play from standout senior Greg Eason, UCF outlasted Texas to capture the 3M Augusta Invitational at Forest Hills Golf Club on Sunday by a single shot.
The victory by the ninth-ranked Knights was their fourth this season – the others coming at the Northern Intercollegiate, Adams Cup of Newport and last week at the FAU Spring Break Championship.
But Sunday's win was clearly the most prestigious, beating Illinois (No. 7 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings), Houston (No. 8) and the 18th-ranked Longhorns.
“We played Texas a couple other times this year and have come out on top, so we were pretty confident in our ability to catch up,” UCF coach Bryce Wallor said. ”Got off to a little bit of a slow start, but played really well 9 through 13 and made some birdies and got ourselves back into it.”
As UCF has done for most of this season, it relied on Eason.
The transplant from Leicester City, England, quickly took control in Saturday’s first and second rounds, recording a bogey-free 66 in the morning session and then following it up with a 1-under 71 in the afternoon to share the lead with Scott Vincent of Virginia Tech.
On Sunday, Eason played even-par golf over the first nine holes, but made four birdies on the back nine to shoot a 4-under 68 – good enough to clear Vincent by a single shot at 11 under for the tournament.
“Luckily enough I've been in this position a few times this year,” Eason said after his second individual victory of the season. “So it was nice to be in that position again and just try to stick to the game plan, do the same things I did the first two rounds.”
The surprise of Sunday’s final round was the play of Baylor’s Kyle Jones. The junior was tied for fourth going into Sunday, but after two bogeys in the first three holes and turning at 1-over 37, Jones looked to be out of the hunt.
That all changed with five birdies on the back nine including a tap-in at the par-5 17th and an uphill 7-footer on the par-4 18th to shoot 31 on the back and record a 4-under 68, pushing him to solo third at 9 under.
“Small chance,” Jones said of his chances going into Sunday. “Going into today I figured 11 under would probably win it, so I knew it was going to have to take something really special on the back. I did what I could, gave myself a chance, so I guess we'll see how it comes down.”
Most of the teams leave Augusta with their conference championships next up on their schedule, and UCF’s Eason is excited about the team’s prospects.
“I think we've got as good a chance as we're ever going to have,” Eason said. “I think this week is going to be a great confidence booster for us, as well, especially (since) this is the last event before conference. I think we're about as ready as we could be.”
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