Ag Men Third At Whispering Pines

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TRINITY, Texas -- The rugged back nine at Whispering Pines Golf Club played havoc with most of the field on Friday at the Big 12 Men's Golf Championship, but No. 16-ranked Texas A&M used it to climb back into contention.

The Aggies were in seventh place after an 11-over-par 299 the morning round while No. 5-ranked Oklahoma State and Texas battled for the lead. But A&M fired a four-under 284 in the afternoon, shooting eight-under on the closing nine.

A&M is in third place at seven-over (583) and trails the Cowboys (567) by 16 strokes going into Saturday's third round. The Aggies tee off at 9:50 a.m. and will be paired with OSU and Texas. The final round is Sunday.

Texas is in second at 582, just one shot ahead of the Aggies. A&M made up 12 shots on the Longhorns on the last nine.

Texas Tech is in fourth at 584, followed by Oklahoma (592), Baylor (594), Kansas (598), Nebraska (603), Kansas State (604), Iowa State (611), Colorado (614) and Missouri (616).

OSU's Rickie Fowler (72-68=140) and Kevin Tway (72-68=140) share the individual lead at four-under. A&M junior Matt Van Zandt (74-70=144) is tied for eighth, four shots behind the leaders.

Van Zandt, sophomore Andrea Pavan and junior Bronson Burgoon fueled A&M's late charge.

Van Zandt was even par through 11 holes, but birdied three of the next six holes before closing with a bogey. Pavan was three-over for the round, and seven over for the tournament, through 10 holes, then birdied five of the next seven before also finishing with a bogey. Burgoon played the final seven in three-under.

"Vanny is all heart and did a great job of leading the way for us," A&M Coach J.T. Higgins said. "And Andrea is a special player. When the shots start going his way, he can run off a lot of birdies and that's what he did. I was proud of all the guys for the way they kept battling to the end."

"We played tentative in the morning round and were just not aggressive," Higgins said. "The guys got tired of not playing well and became more aggressive with their putts and approaches. If we want to win, we can't be afraid of missing shots."

Pavan (76-71=147), Burgoon (77-70=147) and senior Bobby Gates (74-73=147) are tied for 16th. Freshman Nacho Elvira (75-76=151) is in 31st.

Pavan was five-over through 11 holes in the first round, but played the last 25 holes in two-under.

Elvira was one-under through 13 holes in the second round, but suffered a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 14th. Gates finished with a birdie on the difficult par-4 18th.

"I'm excited that we are playing 72 holes this year instead of 54 like we have in the past," Higgins said. "That gives us more time to cut into the lead. We haven't played great, but the guys are getting more confident. We have a chance to come out and have a great round tomorrow, which could make things interesting going into Sunday."

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