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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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Slumped at the semis

No. 22 A&M men’s golf took a loss against No. 2 Vanderbilt in their battle for a finals slot in the SEC Championship
Photo by CJ Smith
Texas A&M senior Daniel Rodrigues lines up the ball 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 traveled to St. Simons Island, Georgia to compete in the 2024 SEC Championship in hopes of taking home the win. They played at Sea Island Golf Club at the par-70, 7,005-yard Seaside Course from April 24-27.

After chipping away each round to make it to the top, the Aggies stopped at the semifinals against No. 2 Vanderbilt with a 3.5-1.5 loss.

Coach Brian Kortan took senior Daniel Rodrigues, junior Phichaksn Maichon, sophomore, and winner of the Aggie Invitational, Jamie Montojo, junior Michael Heidelbaugh and freshman Aaron Pounds to round out the five-man lineup.

On Day 1, A&M went 4-under 276 to position themselves in fourth place after being paired with Florida and Georgia.

Rodrigues tied for fourth place after shooting a bogey-free round at 3-under 67.

“Dani [Rodrigues] did a really good job from hole one to hole 18,” Kortan said. “He was in control of his round the whole day. It was good to see him put that round together. I know he thinks he left a few out there, but all-in-all, he executed really well the entire round and got a good one on the board for us.”

Heidelbaugh shot a 1-under 69 for the day, shooting two birdies in the last four holes for a share of 18th. Maichon and Montojo tied for 27th after both shooting an even 70.

Pounds shared 56th place after going 4-over 74 to finish off the day.

The Maroon and White left Day 1 just seven strokes above the cutoff line to be considered part of the eight-team match play leading towards the quarterfinals.

“I thought we did a really nice job,” Kortan said. “We could have finished a little better down the stretch to get an even better score, but we’re in a good place going into round two. The guys battled. That’s kind of their identity. They’ll fight for shots and work their tail off. They did that for 18 holes today.”

Going into Day 2, the Aggies dropped a few slots to sixth place with a 6-under 554. They were paired with Florida and Tennessee.

Rodrigues, however, continued to excel, jumping to third after logging four birdies in the second round. His 2-under 68 posting allowed a 5-under 135 score.

“With Dani [Rodrigues] when you get on a golf course like this, it’s not about how many birdies he’s going to make, it’s about how many bogeys he doesn’t make,” Kortan said. “He’s done a really good job. He has a lot of experience here, and he’s comfortable with how this golf course makes you play.”

Maichon moved up some slots after shooting a 3-under 67 and sharing 14th with a 3-under 137.

“He didn’t hit the tee ball very well yesterday and still had a chance to shoot a really good score with a few holes left,” Kortan said of Maichon. “I knew with better tee balls today he’d shoot a better score…but he was a ton better today.”

Montojo continued with an even-par after birdying three of his last four holes and tied for 28th.
Heidelbaugh and Pounds both went 3-over 73, dropping their standings. Heidelbaugh was tied for 40th with a 2-over 142, while Pounds shared 57th with a 7-over 147.

Kortan said Montojo gave some good momentum going into Round 3 with his Day 2 performance, allowing the team to be placed in a good position to do what they came to do.

“We’re still in good position to make match play, which is your goal when you come here,” Kortan said. “The guys really hung in there today down the stretch. We got on the wrong side of the hole a few times today. This course will penalize you when you’re on the wrong side of the hole. We hung in there, grinded through it and played the last few holes under par.”

A&M was paired with Auburn and Tennessee for the final round.

“A strong round tomorrow gets us to match play,” Kortan said. “The goal when you come here is to first get to match play and then to win the matches.”

On Day 3, the Maroon and White punched in their ticket to the match play section of the SEC Championship with a seventh-place standing at 8-under 832.

Rodrigues kept his momentum with a shared second place individually after shooting a 1-under 69 and 6-under 204.

Heidelbaugh performed the best round of stroke play for the Aggies, shooting birdies in four of his last seven holes, going 4-under 66. He shared 14th at a 2-under 208.

“Michael [Heidelbaugh] has been close to putting a round like that together for a while,” Kortan said. “All three rounds here he’s been right there. Today was just a culmination of the last two days, where just a shot here or a made putt there, and he’d battling at the top of the leaderboard. He did a great job. He was steady and controlled his golf ball. He has been working hard at home to do that and it was great to see it play out on the course in a championship setting.”

On the other side of the shared 14th place was Maichon, who went 1-over 71 for the day.

Montojo and Pounds went 2-over 72, rounding out the team. Montojo shared 36th while Pounds tied for 50th.

“There was a lot of good golf played today,” Kortan said, “We did good – the guys were solid, disciplined and did what we needed to do. In order to reach your goal here, you have to get through stroke play and it doesn’t matter how you do it. We got through step one, now a whole new tournament starts tomorrow.”

Heading into the quarterfinals, the Aggies defeated the No. 7 Tennesee Volunteers, 3-2. Shortly after, the Maroon and White dropped a 3.5-1.5 to the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores in the semifinal round.

Monotjo earned the first point for the Aggies 1UP. Rodrigues added to that and put the team at 2-0 against Tennessee with a 2&1 win.

After defeating Heidelbaugh 1UP, Maichon went 4&2 with a Volunteer to clinch their semi final bid. Along with Heidelbaugh, Pounds lost his match 3&3, respectively.

Going into the semifinals, Vanderbilt took the first point, defeating Maichon, 4&3. Heidelbaugh tied the match at 1-1, going 1UP. The Commodores took another point against Rodrigues, 1UP to take the 2-1 lead.

Montojo came up short in his round after 20 holes while Pounds ended his match in a draw after 18 holes to complete the semifinal competition.

The Aggies will await to hear where they play for the NCAA Regionals taking place May 13-15.

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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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