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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Photo by Courtesy of Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics

Texas A&M men’s golf coach Brian Kortan released the Aggies 2021-2022 competition schedule with the first tournament scheduled to take place on Sept. 5. 

No. 12 Texas A&M men’s golf entered the NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the hopes of bringing a national championship back to College Station. Unfortunately for A&M, this wasn’t the case. Golf can be an unforgiving game, and mistakes can be especially detrimental when facing the nation’s best.  

A&M’s first round performance put A&M behind the eight ball early on in the tournament.

The Aggies finished tied for 24th with a score of 20-over par. Freshman Phichaksn Maichon and sophomore Daniel Rodrigues were the best performers at four-over par and finished tied for 62nd. 

A&M coach Brian Kortan said A&M was undone by the difficult course conditions and failed to adapt in Round 1.

“[Our team] just didn’t step up and play like we are capable of playing,” Kortan said. “The golf course was hard, and you can see that in the scores. They didn’t give you anything out there. We had to work hard for it. We were out of position all day and when the golf course is firm and the greens [are] as fast as they were, you can’t play from out of position, and that’s what we were doing all day. When you do that, you’re going to get punched in the mouth, and we took a couple blows to the mouth today.”

Kortan also said A&M’s experience will help the team figure out a better game plan for the remaining rounds of the tournament.

“I’ve got some guys that have played a lot of golf. They are pretty smart and will reevaluate and have a better idea of how to attack this course,” Kortan said. “For the most part, it’s execution. They know they have to execute at a high level. They will tell you they didn’t today. We made four birdies. By looking at the scores, you can tell this place really took its toll on the field today. We will rest up and come out fighting tomorrow. If we keep the ball in position, we can shoot a good score.”

A&M was a different team in the second round. 

The Aggies jumped up seven spots on the leaderboard to finish the day in 17th place with a score of 27-over par. However, A&M remained two shots off the top-15 cutoff to advance to the next round. 

Senior Sam Bennett was among the notable performers for A&M with an even-par round to finish tied for 53rd. Rodrigues continued to top the leaderboard for A&M, tied for 42nd at 6-over par.

“It was a good round. The guys did a good job and fought the whole day,” Kortan said. “They knew what we needed to do. They are a little disappointed they didn’t finish it up a little better, but this is where we are at. We are going to have to play a great round tomorrow. If we play a round of golf where we take advantage of some of the good things that happen and minimize our mistakes, then we are going to have a chance. The golf course is unforgiving. We just have to battle and do what we have done all year to fight for every shot. This group has done a lot of great things and we have fought from behind before. I know they have it in them to play a great round of golf tomorrow.”

Round 3 was a difficult one for the Aggies. The team finished two shots off of 15th place. It came down to the back nine, but the maroon and white were unable to do enough to advance to the next round.
On the bright side for the Aggies, Bennett’s 49th place finish was enough for him to advance to the fourth-round stroke play with a 2-over third round. 

Kortan said it’s going to be tough to see fifth-year senior Walker Lee leave the team. Lee finished his A&M career with five individual wins, tied for second all time in program history. Lee finished his final round tied for 68th with a score of 12-over par.

“I hate to see Walker [Lee] go. It was an incredible five years with him,” Kortan said. “It’s not the way we wanted it to end for him, but what a career he had. He has been a huge part of Aggie golf. I’ve been here nine years, and he’s been a part of that for five years, so it’s been an incredible career for him. He has been a part of a bunch of wins and not just his individual wins.”

While unhappy with the outcome, Kortan is still proud of A&M’s 2022 season. With a majority of the team returning for next season, A&M is well equipped for another tournament run next season.

“This team competed their tails off all year,” Kortan said. “They had pride and poise. It’s led us to a pretty good season. We just finished 16th at the national championships. That’s not anything to shake your head at and think you didn’t have a good year. We had a good year, we just wanted to have a great year. There’s a lot to look forward to with this group. We bring back everyone except Walker [Lee]. These guys are going to learn from this week and understand what they can do to be better so that we don’t feel like this after three rounds of the national championships. I’m fortunate that I have a great group of guys and great support at Texas A&M.”

Bennett saved his best golf for the fourth round, using a 6-under par to jump into the top 10 on the individual leaderboard. Bennett’s finish is the best by an Aggie since 2013. 

Ultimately, A&M can look at Bennett’s top-10 finish and its second-round performance as positives for the team as it prepares for next season. 

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