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Hold on to your hats

A&M men’s golf finishes in second at Aggie Invitational while Montojo clinches first collegiate title
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Texas A&M sophomore Jaime Montojo studies the green during The Aggie Invitational on Saturday, April 6, 2024, at Traditions Golf Club. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

The No. 22 Texas A&M men’s golf team hosted the 2024 Aggie Invitational at the par 72, 7,227-yard Traditions Golf Club on April 6-7, coming in second place.

Sophomore Jamie Montojo took home his first collegiate title after locking in on the final seven holes on Day 2. He earned co-medalist honors with Louisiana Tech freshman Niilo Maki-Petaja, shooting 1-over 217.

“It feels great — a lot of relief,” Montojo said. “I got paid back for a lot of hard work. It means a lot to earn it at this course, which is so demanding.”

With Traditions being a tough course, coach Brian Kortan said he was fortunate enough to host a college golf tournament there and allow other coaches to experience the greens.

“Traditions has teeth,” Kortan said. “All the coaches will tell you, there’s not a shot where you can take a nap on. There’s not a shot you can stare down and say, ‘I got this one.’ It takes all your golf faculties to perform well. It’s why it’s a great home course for us. It’s a challenge every step of the way.”

Kortan brought nine of his 10 players for the tournament. Playing for the team were senior Daniel Rodrigues, junior Phichaksn Maichon, Montojo, junior Vishnu Sadagopan and junior Michael Heidelbaugh.

Kortan pulled out his freshman to play as individuals. Those playing were Aaron Pounds, Jack Usner, Jake Maggert and Joe Stover.

Ending Round 1 in fourth place was Montojo shooting 1-under 71. By the end of Round 2, he sunk to tie for 13th, shooting 4-over 148.

Sharing 10th in Round 1, Pounds went 2-over 74 before sharing 13th with Montojo in Round 2 also going 4-over 148.

Maichon didn’t start his strongest, sharing 17th place in Round 1 with a 3-over 75, but made a quick turnaround and jumped several spots to tie for second in Round 2 with a 3-under 69 and finishing even par for the day.

“[Phichaksn Maichon] did a really nice job this afternoon and moved into contention to win it tomorrow individual,” Kortan said.

The only athlete to shoot under at Traditions on Day 1 was Baylor junior Zach Heffernan, who stood in first place for Day 2 going 1-under 143

Maggert and Heidelbaugh shared 24th, going 4-over 76 in Round 1. By the end of the day, Maggert moved up to tie for 19th going 7-over 151 while Heidelbaugh fell to share 27th shooting 8-over 152.

Stover started Round 1 sharing 34th and ended Round 2 sharing 45th, going 11-over 155. Rodrigues started tied for 40th before sharing 34th, shooting 9-over 153.

Sadagopan and Usner stayed in the lower placements during both rounds. Sadagopan finished Day 1 sharing 50th with 12-over 156 and Usher tied for 63rd with 16-over 160.

On a difficult day at Traditions, the presence of high winds significantly influenced the athletes’ performance in a sport where weather conditions can directly affect their final standings.

“The golf course was tough,” Kortan said. “The day was challenging because of the weather, but it’s definitely something we should have handled better, especially considering our experience here.”

A&M stood at second by the end of Day 1, shooting 18-over 594.

“We really didn’t string enough holes together to post a good score,” Kortan said. “We had some other guys moving in the right direction and had a chance to post really good scores this afternoon, but then we made some mistakes on the back nine that we shouldn’t have made, which led to bogeys.”

Going into Day 2, the Aggies stood strong. Montojo moved up to tie for first after shooting the lowest score of the day at 3-under 69. Combine posting 32 on the back nine and adding in four birdies in the last seven, you have an underdog victory for Montojo as long as he stayed firm on Day 3.

“This course is always a challenge,” Montojo said. “I struggle here sometimes in qualifying. It got firm here yesterday. It was windy and a really long day. It’s a test mentally and physically.”

Maichon came in just a couple strokes long and finished in third, going 2-over 218.

“It was awesome,” Kortan said. “Jaime [Montojo] gets the win and P [Phichaksn Maichon] was battling all the way down to the end. It’s great for them to have that experience. Now Jaime has a win, P has a couple wins, Dani [Daniel Rodrigues] a win. We have several guys who can win golf tournaments. We just need to get them all there together.”

A&M finished in second place with a 20-over 884, just six shots behind tourney champion Baylor, who went 14-over 878.

Rodrigues finished 20th, going even in Round 3 and 9-over 225 overall. Pounds performed the best of his season, shooting 6-over 222 and placed in 12th.

Heidelbaugh and Maggert stayed close to each other with a shared 25th spot and a standing 29th place, respectively. The three remaining freshmen individuals stayed near the bottom slots with Stover sharing 32nd, Usner sharing 64th and Sadagopan tying for 66th.

The Maroon and White will travel to the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Georgia to compete in the SEC Championship on April 24-28.

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About the Contributor
Idani Cantu, Sports Writer
Idani Cantu is a senior Agricultural Communication and Journalism major.
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