June 4, 2005
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - With Coach Chris Haack rubbing the lucky coin in his pocket, the Georgia men's golf team cashed in on Saturday at the NCAA Championships. The Bulldogs went wire-to-wire as the tournament leader at Caves Valley Golf Club, finishing with an 11-shot advantage over instate rival Georgia Tech.
Georgia fired an even-par 280 in the final round to wind up at 15-over 1,135. Afterward, Haack was chosen as the recipient of the GCAA's Dave Williams Award as the National Coach of the Year. "I could not be prouder of this group of guys," said Haack, who carried a coin given to him by his children, Katie and Charlie, that had the inscription, "Dad, I Love You." "I knew that we had the talent, the confidence and the demeanor to challenge for the championship this year," Haack continued.
"It's been a good year, but we only had two wins coming in. I knew if they all put it together, it would be special. They just happened to do it this week when it meant the most."
The national championship is the second in Georgia history. The 1999 Bulldogs claimed the national title in Minnesota. It is also the school's 14th national championship since 1999 and the 24th overall. Earlier this year, gymnastics and women's swimming and diving claimed titles.
"It's awesome to go out like this," said David Denham, the only senior in the Bulldogs' lineup. "You live for moments like this. Every team strives to win the national championship, but not too many of them do it."
"This is what you play for," junior Richard Scott said. "This is what this team was put together for. It's great to go out and win other tournaments, but this is the one we all play for." "This is the biggest one," junior and team captain Kevin Kisner said.
"This is what you set your goals for. This is why we all came to Georgia. We've got too solid of a team not to win tournaments. When we all play well, it's hard for us to lose."
The Bulldogs entered the final round with a 9-shot lead over the Yellow Jackets, and they knew it would hard to give that kind of lead away. Still, when sophomore Brendon Todd's putt rolled in on No. 18, the players and coaches were all at once relieved and ecstatic.
"This is the ultimate feeling," sophomore Chris Kirk said. "It's awesome. It's a great group of guys, and I have loved playing with them the last two years."
"It feels great," Todd said. "It's probably the biggest accomplishment any of us have in golf. It's just incredible to win the national championship. And I'm excited about the next couple of years. I think we might have some more in us." All five Bulldogs fired an even-par 70 on Saturday. Said Haack, "That's just the way we drew it up in the playbook."
Todd wound up as the Bulldogs' top individual at 3-over 283, followed by Kirk and Kisner at 5-over 285, Scott at 6-over 286 and Denham at 8-over 288. Each player wound up in the top 25.