HUTCHINSON, KS -- Bobby Gates opened with rounds of 69-73=142 on Monday to lead 12th-ranked Texas A&M into second place after the first day of the Big 12 Men's Golf Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
At a 24-over-par (285-299=584), the Aggies trail No. 6 Oklahoma State (290-289=579) by five strokes going into Tuesday's final round. Gates is in second place in the individual standings, just one shot behind Texas Tech's Oscar Floren (72-69=141).
The Aggies last won a conference title in 1987, when they captured the Southwest Conference crown. The last time an A&M players won an individual title was in 1995, when Dru Fenimore and Anthony Rodriguez shared SWC honors.
A&M opened with a 285 in the morning round to take a five-stroke lead but struggled in the afternoon. But just when it appeared A&M would drop from serious contention, the Aggies rallied and played their final seven holes in two-under.
"What a rollercoaster ride for us today," A&M Coach J.T. Higgins said. "We played such great golf in the morning and we're really excited about that. We started on the back nine in the second round and really struggled. It kind of jumped up and bit us, but I was proud of the way the guys hung in there and got us back into contention. We knew coming in it would go to the final round. Oklahoma State has a great team, but I like our chances and I like that we are in the mix again."
Texas is in third place (591), followed by Texas Tech (595), Oklahoma (604), Missouri (604), Kansas State (605), Baylor (605), Kansas (613), Nebraska (616), Colorado (617) and Iowa State (622).
A&M's Martin Piller is tied for eighth (72-75=147), Austin Schauer (74-75=149) and Bronson Burgoon (73-76=149) are tied for 14th, and Trey Todd (71-80=151) is tied for 23rd.
Burgoon was three-under after 11 holes in the morning round, but played the next five holes in six over to finish with a 73. Gates was three-under through 14 holes -- including an eagle on the par-5 7th -- but bogied two of the last four holes to finish his 69.