Monday, April 18, 2011

Nagy's Return Bolters Owls Championship Hopes

In 2007, Kennesaw State played in their first Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Golf Championship and left with a fifth-place finish. The following year, the Owls earned a tie for third place, which still stands as a program-best, behind the seventh-place performance of then-freshman Matt Nagy. However, since the 2008 tournament the Owls have only been able to muster eighth-place and a tie for seventh-place finishes in the last two seasons.

As a sophomore Nagy struggled at the 2009 A-Sun Championship finishing the three-day tournament in 40th place after a final day 81. However, that summer Nagy qualified for the 2009 US Open at Bethpage Black after running the gauntlet of local qualifying and sectional play. The experience of playing in one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world changed Nagy’s golf game forever.

“It was a life-changing experience for me - I get asked all the time about playing in it and the experience has helped out my golf game a ton,” he said.

Jeff Karlsson joined the Owls’ golf team in the fall of 2008 fresh out of Gothenburg, Sweden, where he first started playing golf as a freshman in high school. His top finish as a freshman with the Owls came at the Columbia Invitational where he claimed third place. His golf game only improved in his sophomore season as he earned an event win at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate and finished runner-up in the Samford Intercollegiate.

Like Nagy, Karlsson had the opportunity to play in a highly-prestigious event, the International European Amateur, where he competed against 144 of the best amateur players that Europe has to offer. Karlsson finished under-par in every single round en route to a 12-under par 276, good for fourth place.

Nagy and Karlsson’s experience in those tournaments helped them individually as well as the Owls’ team as Kennesaw State sits in first place after day one of the 2011 A-Sun Men’s Golf Championship at Chateau Elan. Karlsson’s four-under 67 put him in second place, while Nagy trails right behind his junior teammate with an opening-round 68. Nagy knows how much it would mean to win the conference tournament as the host school.

“I’ve been looking forward to [the conference tournament] all year,". Nagy said. "No matter the big tournaments we’ve played in against other schools it’s nothing like winning your conference and I definitely want a conference ring before I graduate and this year would make it special.”

With the continued play of Karlsson, Nagy and the rest of the Owls their dreams of a conference title could come true.

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