No. 18 Aggies Ready For NCAA Men's Golf Championship

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WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- No. 18-ranked Texas A&M will compete in the 111th NCAA Men's Golf Championship beginning on Wednesday at the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex.

The 72-hole event continues through Saturday. The 30-team field will e trimmed to the top 15 after Friday's third round.

A&M is making its fourth appearance at nationals in the last five years after narrowly missing a bid last season. The Aggies placed 14th in 2006.

A&M has not finished in the top 10 since 1984, when it was 10th. Overall, the Aggies are playing in their 24th NCAA Championship since 1955. The best finish in school history was fourth in 1982.

Representing the Aggies will be senior Bobby Gates, juniors Bronson Burgoon and Matt Van Zandt, sophomore Andrea Pavan (puh-VAHN) and freshman Nacho Elvira.

Other ranked teams in the field are top-ranked Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Southern California, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Florida, No. 8 Charlotte, No. 14 Clemson, No. 16 Auburn, No. 17 Wake Forest, No. 19 Arizona State, No. 20 East Tennessee State, No. 23 Louisville and No. 24 Indiana.

The rest of the field includes Augusta State, Colorado, Georgia State, Illinois, Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Oregon, Penn State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, St. Mary's (Calif.), TCU, Texas, Alabama-Birmingham, UC Irvine, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

"This tournament is our goal every year and we happy to back at the finals," A&M Coach J.T. Higgins said. "There is no doubt that we are capable of competing. We have played against these same teams all season and had a lot of success. When we are playing well we are as good as anybody in the field. I believe in this group of young men; they have worked hard and deserve to be successful."

Gates, who leads the team with a 73.41 scoring average, is ranked No. 79 nationally by Golfweek. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, he is competing in his third NCAA finals. He owns school records for career rounds played (151) and career rounds of par or better (51).

Burgoon sat out the fall season but has played in all seven spring events. He is tied with former All-American Anthony Rodriguez (1992-95) as the top career scorer in A&M history with a 72.93 average. An All-America as a sophomore, Burgoon was the runner-up at the John Burns Intercollegiate in February, tying the school record with a 13-under-par 70-68-65=203.

Ranked No. 65, Elvira carries a 73.81 stroke average and won the Barona Collegiate Cup in March with a 12-under 67-71-66=204. The reigning Spanish Amateur champion, he recently competed in the Spanish Open, a European PGA Tour event.

Pavan is second on the team in scoring at 73.54 and placed fifth at the Big 12 Championship, which was highlighted by a bogey-free 67 in the second round. He tied for second at the Barona Cup, finishing just three shots behind Elvira.

Van Zandt averages 73.70 and has placed in the top 25 in five of seven spring events, including a tie for sixth at the U.S. Collegiate Championship.

A&M has had a strong spring season, winning the Barona Cup by 20 strokes with a school-record score of 37-under. The previous record was set in late February, when the Aggies shot 33-under in a runner-up finish at the Burns Intercollegiate in Hawaii.

The Aggies tied for second at the PING/Arizona State Invitational, were fourth at the Big 12 Championship and placed seventh at the NCAA Central Regional.

The Kampen Course was redesigned by world-renowned golf course architect Pete Dye in 1998. The links-style par-72 layout measures 7,431 yards.

"I love this course and think it is a good course for us," Higgins said. "It is a monster and I'm sure the rough will be thick. It is a great challenge, both mentally and physically."

Stanford is the defending champion while Southern California's Jamie Lovemark won the individual title last year as a freshman.

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