Texas A&M men’s golf lost to Vanderbilt 3-2 in the NCAA Championship match play quarterfinals on Tuesday, bringing their season to an end.
It took extra holes to decide the match, where Dan Erickson missed a par putt on the 19th hole that would have extended the match with Commodore senior Will Gordon. The Aggies placed seventh in the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championships earlier in the week.
For the first time in program history, the Aggies advanced to quarterfinal match play in consecutive seasons. This year marked A&M’s 32nd NCAA Championship appearance after winning the Pullman Regional earlier this month, which was the team’s third Regional title and the first in back-to-back seasons.
"I'm so proud of these guys, they fought so hard today," A&M head coach J.T. Higgins told 12thman.com. "This never gets easier, it's the second year in a row we felt like we had them at the end and have come away empty handed. There was one point that we were down 4-0-1 on the back nine, and they just kept fighting and getting it back little by little.”
Vanderbilt won the first two matches of the morning, as Patrick Martin took down Walker Lee 5 and 4, and John Augenstein defeated Brandon Smith 2 and 1.
The Aggies earned their first win of the day shortly afterwards, as senior Chandler Phillips took down Harrison Ott 3 and 2. Their matched swung back-and-forth for most of the morning before Phillips won holes 15 and 16 to close out his victory.
Phillips saw his decorated collegiate career came to an end, where he rewrote A&M’s record books and was a three-time All-SEC first team honoree.
Freshman Sam Bennett soon followed up with another A&M win, as he beat Reid Davenport 1-up. The Aggie took a one-hole lead on 14 and played even the rest of the way to secure the win on the 18th hole.
All eyes turned to the only remaining match on the course between Erickson and Gordon, which decided who advanced to Tuesday afternoon semi-finals.
Erickson was behind for most of the front nine before fighting his way back into the match down the stretch. The Aggie junior tied the match three times on the back nine and split the 18th hole to force extra holes.
On the first extra hole, Gordon, a first-team All-American, sank the par putt to place the pressure on Erickson to extend the match. Erickson’s putt lipped out to end the Aggies’ postseason run.
“Dan [Erickson] fought so hard, his putt on 18 was amazing and then a hole later he had the heartbreak of missing a shorter one,” Higgins told 12thman.com. “He took a first-team All-American down to the wire after Sam [Bennett] and Chandler [Phillips] got wins for us. I'm just really proud of these guys, it was a great team and a great season."