PACIFIC PALISADES, CA -- Texas A&M sits eight strokes out of the final match-play qualifying spot after the first of three rounds of stroke play wrapped up Tuesday at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at Riviera Country Club.
The 10th-ranked Aggies, who were in the afternoon wave of teams to tackle the course, carded a 14-over 298 on the day and sit in a tie for 22nd place along with host and fourth-ranked USC. After two more rounds of stroke play are completed, the top eight teams advance to match play to determine the champion. Upon completion of Tuesday’s action, that cut line sits at 6-over par.
“You go late one day and early one day (at NCAAs), and usually the late times are a little tougher,” head coach J.T. Higgins said. “The wind blows, the greens are a little bumpier—all kinds of things. What we’ve done is put ourselves in a position to have to play well the rest of the way, but we’re perfectly capable of doing that. With a good round tomorrow we’ll be right there in position to win a spot in match play, and that’s what you’re trying to do—you’re just trying to qualify.”
No squad in the 30-team field broke par on the 7,292-yard, par-71 course. No. 2 Alabama leads the field after round one at 1-over, with No. 18 Florida (+4), No. 5 Auburn (+4), No. 3 UCLA (+5) and Oklahoma (+5) sitting above the cut line. Five teams are tied for the final two qualifying spots at 6-over par—Iowa, No. 19 Florida State, No. 13 North Florida, No. 1 Texas and No. 22 UCF.
A&M’s top individual was true freshman Ty Dunlap, who posted a 1-over 72 on the afternoon and sits in a tie for 27th place. Sophomore Johannes Veerman carded a 3-over 74, while seniors Jordan Russell and Geoff Shaw each turned in a 5-over 76 and redshirt freshman Greg Yates fired an 8-over 79.
“I was really happy with Ty,” Higgins said. “He didn’t hit the ball as well as he’s hit it all postseason. but he still put together a good round. I expect him to have much better ball-striking days the next two days, so he has the ability to go low.”
The Aggies, along with North Florida and San Diego State, will begin Wednesday’s second round at 8:10 a.m. (PT) from the 10th hole. Live scoring will be available on ncaa.com. A final 18 holes are scheduled for Thursday, with the quarterfinal round of match play beginning Friday.
“I think the guys were tired and maybe a little fatigued mentally,” Higgins said. “I thought maybe we were a little drained and we gave some shots away. We didn’t finish very strong. The guys just have to understand we can’t give shots away the rest of the tournament, and they know that. We’ve been as charitable as we can be. But we’re not pushing the panic button yet, we’re fine. We’re in good shape.”