KINGSTON SPRINGS, Tenn. – Fueled by the outstanding play of sophomore Ben Crancer, the Texas A&M men’s golf team leads the field after two rounds at the Dick's Challenge Cup.
Crancer (68-63=131, -11) sits atop the individual leaderboard at the Golf Club of Tennessee and will enter Saturday’s final round five strokes ahead of Virginia’s Denny McCarthy (68-68=136, -6).
The second-year Aggie from Kirkwood, Mo., carded a round of three-under par during his first run through the course Friday morning but surged to the top of the leaderboard with a nine-birdie, one-bogie afternoon round. The round of 63 is just the third-ever scorecard of 63 turned in by an Aggie golfer and places Crancer in a third-place tie on the list of lowest single round vs. par (-8) in school history.
“We’re obviously thrilled for Ben, that’s probably the best round of his life,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “What a great way for him to start the season. He made so many birdies and really got in a zone today. He’s put himself in a great position to go out tomorrow and win a college golf tournament, which is always an accomplishment.”
As group, the Texas A&M contingency (286-271=557, -11) holds a one-shot advantage over Georgia (274-284=558, -10). The Aggies’ 13-under par second round of 271 stood out as the lowest team score of the day and was a 15-shot improvement from their morning round.
“I just thought we played outstanding golf, it’s great to get our season started off that way,” Higgins added. “We were really disciplined, focused and intense out there today. The guys really battled. They had a plan and they stuck to it while doing a really good job of executing. If that’s the way we’re going to play this year, we are going to be a really tough team.”
Vanderbilt, Clemson and Tennessee round out the top five in the standings at the event which pits Southeastern Conference schools against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia, Mississippi State, Duke, Wake Forest and Boston College fill out the bottom half of the 10-team field.
Junior Ty Dunlap (70-72=142, E) is the second-highest ranking Aggie on the leaderboard as the Westlake, Texas, native holds a tie for 14th at even par after 36 holes.
Sophomore Andrew Lister (74-69=143, +1) and senior Jade Scott (79-67=146, +4) each finished strong on Friday and shot under par during their afternoon rounds to end the day in ties for 16th and 28th place, respectively.
Also competing for the Aggies was sophomore Adrià Arnaus (74-76=150, +8), who stands in a tie for 39th.
“I don’t want to leave out the other guys, they played well,” Higgins continued. “Jade was eight-over through his first nine holes and played his last 27 at four-under. It was great resiliency by him, he showed a lot of heart out there and fought hard for his team. Andrew played great and Ty was really steady, so it was really an all-around good effort by the team. I’m really happy with the guys, I think we played our last five holes at nine-under to grab the lead. That was tremendous to see because there are some great teams here. I’m anxious to see if we can go out and bring home a championship tomorrow.”
Returning to the course for the third and final round on Saturday, Texas A&M will be partnered with golfers from Georgia and Vanderbilt and begin teeing off at the first hole at 8:50 a.m.