American-based Aussie Mitch Krywulycz has achieved something most Australian amateur players haven’t, namely consecutive collegiate wins with Augusta State in the tough American NCAA Championship.
Augusta State won its second consecutive National Championship when the Jaguars defeated Georgia, 3-2, in the Match Play Finals of the NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
With the victory, the college became the first men’s golf program to repeat as National Champions since the Houston Cougars in 1984-85. Krywulycz is also the only Australian to have played in successive winning collegiate golf teams within the NCAA format.
A Senior majoring in History & Sociology, Krywulycz has been instrumental in the last two NCAA championship finals for the Jaguars and the latest win caps off a stellar US collegiate career for the Sydneysider who grew up in the southern suburb of Sylvania before moving to Augusta.
“I’ve finished my degree, so now it is time to go professional,” said Krywulycz after the final.
“I’ve had many memorable experiences playing collegiate golf and it has placed me well for my next challenge.”
In the 2010 final Krywulycz secured the clinching point in the Jags’ victory over US Collegiate powerhouse Oklahoma State. His efforts in this year’s final were equally impressive as the 21-year-old secured the first four holes against Georgia’s Hudson Swafford and never trailed.
It might not have been as dramatic as Krywulycz’s fighting efforts of 2010, where from 4-down against Kevin Tway he won the match on the 19th, but it wasn’t far from it.
Swafford birdied the 16th to cut Krywulycz’s advantage to 2-up before the Aussie made arguably the best bogey in school history on Karsten Creek’s difficult par-4 17th.
After driving into the right rough, Krywulycz’s second shot hit the left side of the green and rolled down the shaved bank into Lake Louise. After taking a penalty drop, Krywulycz wedged his fourth shot to within five feet to then step up and drain the putt for bogey, halving the hole and closing out Swafford and the match.
“Match play rewards the team that plays best under pressure,” said Krywulycz.
“It doesn’t necessarily reward the best team, but every match is under the pump, all the time, every hole. We all contribute in our own way and in the last two finals, I’ve certainly been in the thick of it.”
Krywulycz has been based in Augusta for the last four years since leaving Sydney and has found the challenges in playing the tough US Collegiate system combined with achieving sound academic results both rewarding and demanding.
“The depth of the fields in top flight college fields are extremely deep which will hopefully help me in the professional arena,” says Krywulycz who has turned professional following the final and will focus initially on the feeder tours including the Tarheel, Hooters events and Nationwide qualifiers up to Christmas.
“I’ll return home for the Australian Q-School and then head back to the US in 2012 to play the same mixture of events and culminate that with 2012/2013 PGA tour school.”
In 2007 Krywulycz left Sydney and his base at New South Wales Golf Club to take up a scholarship with Augusta State. He had played pennants for NSW Golf Club and went to the US with his best achievement winning the 2006 Australian Schoolboy Championship.
At the time Augusta State hardly featured on the US golfing collegiate map, yet the college was making moves with a discreet selection process of sourcing exciting and fresh international talent.
The strategy would prove effective as the college has become one of the strongest in the system. Of the Jags’ current 11-man roster, five players hail from outside the US with four Swedes, Olle Bengtsson, Jacob Carlsson, Henrik Norlander and Alex Wennstam and Aussie Krywulycz.
A quick look at the history books and NCAA statistics reveals that Augusta State has an enrolment of just over 7000 and plays at Division II within the NCCA system for all sports except men’s and women’s golf.
“It’s a small but close college,” says Krywulycz.
“As an Aussie you cannot fathom what it is like to play college golf here unless you actually experience it and you then get a feel as to how important it is to everyone. You build relationships that will last a lifetime and you get introductions you otherwise probably would not get.”
This networking element is what Krywulycz sees as one of the best attractions within the collegiate system and one emerging Australian amateurs should consider.
“The ability to form a solid base in the States and build relationships that will last me a lifetime is just invaluable and the best thing I’ve done,” says the 2008 Southeastern Amateur champion.
“I have graduated with my degree so now it is time to play professionally. Either way I can fall back onto something and that’s the benefit of being based in the States, as there are always options.”
Krywulycz is contented with where he’s at and what he’s achieved to date.
It’s a classic ‘Aussie does good in the US’ story. It sends a message that other Australians need to consider the pathway that Krywulycz has taken, which is certainly not for the faint hearted as you need to not only excel in sport, but also retain your academic results.
For those like Krywulycz who achieve this, the rewards are there. Like a magic lesson in life’s challenges you get the full works under the US collegiate system. Individual and team pursuits combining against the might of the US Collegiate system not only develops great sportspersons and individuals, it creates life long bonds.
“I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” said Krywulycz.
“Pro golf is always going to be there, but what I’ve been through with these guys the last few years, I wouldn’t change a thing.”