After falling to seventh place on day two, the No. 14 Texas A&M men’s golf team shot a 1-over par 281 to climb to a fifth place tie with the University of Illinois in the Fighting Illini Invitational.
The men collectively finished 19 strokes over par and were 13 strokes over the winner, No. 3 Georgia Tech.
The Aggies faced some stiff competition and placed ahead of No. 25 Florida, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 1 Texas.
The Aggies had a fast start on day one, tying for fifth with No. 6 California and No. 20 Baylor and shooting a collective 6 over par (283). Sophomore Sam Bennett lead the way shooting par on a day that saw the Aggies only five strokes over from first place leaders Georgia Tech.
A&M head coach J.T, Higgins said he is proud of the way the team performed over the weekend.
“Really, for two of three rounds they went toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the nation and held our own,” Higgins said. “We had a tough day yesterday, but I’m proud of them for bouncing back and showing what they can do. I’m happy we came away with a top five finish and beat some really good teams.”
On the second day of competition, the Aggies faced some adversity, falling to seventh place at the end of the round. A&M shot an 18 over par (295) putting their total score at 578, which was 14 strokes over the first place leader on Saturday, Baylor.
Higgins said the weather played a major role in the performance.
“It was a tough day for us,” Higgins said. “The wind was blowing pretty hard, and we didn’t handle it very well. I think we started pressing and lost our composure. We started turning birdie holes into bogey holes. It was a difficult day that we’re going to chalk up to a learning experience.”
The Aggies’ struggles were evident in the scorecard as they hit six double bogeys and a triple bogey compared to none from the day before.
However, learn the Aggies did. After an underwhelming finish on Saturday, A&M had a fast start, hitting 3 strokes over par (281), which was tied for the lowest score amongst all teams.
The Aggies finished two strokes ahead of Florida State, four strokes ahead of Texas, and 18 strokes over Oklahoma State. The Aggies hit 14 birdies on Sunday, the most they hit on any day of the invitational.
A&M was led by senior Josh Gliege who shot two strokes over par, placing him ninth amongst all competitors. Junior Walker Lee finished 4 strokes over par to tie for 17th place.
Higgins said the pair exceeded expectations, given the conditions of the course.
“I’m really proud of Walker Lee and Josh Gliege with both of them shooting under par today,” Higgins said. “The course was set up really tough and it was windy again, but they handled it great. It was a terrific finish for Josh and it’s nice to have him playing golf the way we know he can.”
Sophomore Sam Barnett finished 8 strokes over par giving him a tie at 34th place. Seniors Brandon Smith and Dan Erickson shot 11 and 12 strokes respectively, good enough to give them top 50 finishes for the tournament.
The Aggies will next play in the Westheimer Intercollegiate starting Oct. 6 in Carrollton.