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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M men’s golf defeats Tennessee in Quarterfinals, falls to Florida in Semifinals

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Courtesy of Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics

Senior member of the Texas A&M golf team Sam Bennett secured a podium finish at the second tournament of the 2021 season. 

The elite eight of the SEC made the weekend’s match play bracket, and six of those teams are ranked. Match play is unique in the game of golf, in that instead of playing against the course, the golfers are playing against each other. Needless to say, the competition promised to be fierce with one-on-one duels between quintets, all vying for the conference championship.
The Quarterfinals began early in the morning on Saturday, April 23 at Sea Island Golf Club on the Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Ga. By virtue of No. 19 Texas A&M’s second place finish in the stroke play portion of the tournament, the Aggies earned the 2-seed and a matchup with the 7-seed, No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers.
Quarterfinals
In a battle between top-20 teams, the Aggies won the match 4-1 to advance to the Semifinals. Junior Williams Paysse grabbed the match’s first point by defeating Tennessee redshirt sophomore Jake Hall 2 and 1. Paysse trailed by one after 12 holes, but back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14 slingshotted him in front, and a birdie on the 17th secured the win for the Belton native.
A&M fifth-year Walker Lee won in an impressive fashion 5 and 3 over Tennessee redshirt senior Hunter Wolcott. Lee won five of the last seven holes of the match — including three straight on holes 11, 12 and 13 — to collect the second match point for the Aggies.
A&M sophomore Daniel Rodrigues put together a clutch come-from-behind 2 and 1 win late over Tennessee redshirt senior Tyler Johnson. Rodrigues never held a lead until a birdie on the 16th, and he followed that hole with a birdie on the 17th to steal the match point and secure the overall match win for the Aggies.
Tennessee redshirt sophomore Bryce Lewis won the lone match point for the Volunteers with a 2-up victory over A&M senior Sam Bennett. Lewis grabbed the lead with a birdie on the second hole and never surrendered it. The round ended after 15 holes of play.
A&M freshman Phichaksn Maichon won his match 2-up over Tennessee senior Spencer Cross. Maichon and Cross played a tight front-nine, but the former gained the advantage down the stretch to earn the fourth point for the Aggies before the round ended after 15 holes of play.
“We turned it on against Tennessee,” head coach Brian Kortan told 12thMan.com. “They were up early, and we were down in every match after the first five holes. To come back and win that match with a few holes to spare was a great stretch of golf for our guys.”
Semifinals
The Aggies advanced to the Semifinals later that afternoon, to 3-seed, No. 16 Florida after the Gators defeated 6-seed, No. 12 Georgia 3-1-1 in the Quarterfinals. In another top-20 showdown, no extra motivation was needed to play another round of golf with a spot in Sunday’s SEC Championship Finals on the line.
A&M’s run in the SEC Championship came to an end in the Semifinals, as Florida took the match 3-1-1. Paysse went toe-to-toe with Florida junior and stroke play champion John Dubois, but a bogey on the 18th by Paysse opened the door for Dubois, and the latter won in one playoff hole to deliver the match’s first point for the Gators.
Maichon never trailed in his matchup with Florida sophomore Tyler Wilkes, and he hung on to win it 1-up to even the match at one point apiece. Maichon took the lead for good when Wilkes bogeyed the 10th, and he held it coming in for the Aggies.
Lee was competitive with Florida redshirt junior Fred Biondi through the first 10 holes, but he beat himself by carding three consecutive bogeys on holes 12-14. In the same stretch, Biondi won holes 11-14 to secure the match point 4 and 3 for the Gators.
Rodrigues tied with Florida junior Ricky Castillo in 18 holes of play. The two were tied for two-thirds of the round, and they would have gone into a playoff if not for their match becoming moot following the result of the last pairing in the overall match.
Bennett had the lead at the turn against Florida junior Yuxin Lin, but the latter usurped him by winning holes 11 and 12. Lin maintained his advantage and won the match 2 and 1 to obtain the third and final point for the Gators, officially giving them the overall match win and a berth in the Finals against 1-seed, No. 3 Vanderbilt.
“I thought the guys did a great job. They fought the entire day,” Kortan told 12thMan.com. “I am proud of them for that. It was a great tournament; we just came up a few shots short. That is how match play is.”
A&M has some time off before its next tournament, as the Aggies will have an opportunity to once again compete at Traditions Club in Bryan-College Station from Monday, May 16 to Wednesday, May 18 in the NCAA Bryan Regional.
“[Assistant] coach Matt Fast and I are incredibly proud of these guys,” Kortan told 12thMan.com. “We got better this week, and I think it’ll make them hungry for what we have coming up this next month in terms of postseason.”

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