PULLMAN, Wash. -- For the second straight season and third time in program history, the Texas A&M men's golf team finished first at NCAA Regionals as it claimed the Pullman Regional by two strokes Wednesday afternoon. The Aggies, who entered the week as the four-seed in Pullman, shot a school post season record 33-under (269-268-270=807) to claim the championship, finishing ahead of six-seed BYU (272-271-266=809, -31) and top-seeded Oklahoma (270-270-270=810, -30). BYU’s Rhett Rasmussen won the event shooting 15-under.
"We are really excited to be headed back to the national championships," said head coach J.T. Higgins. "The goal all year is to be able to have a chance to compete for the title and the guys did a great job to get us there. They played with purpose all week and focused on the end result, not what was going on in the moment, and we took care of business and advanced out of here.
"Today was fun, we had a chance to play for victory since we felt like we had advancing taken care of. We went after a Regional Championship and made it two in a row, which is quite an accomplishment. The four guys that finished in the top 12, what a fantastic job they did. They were solid all week. They kept the ball in play, stuck to the game plan. They were patient, determined and focused. Walker [Lee] was great, earned a top-six finish, but the other guys were just a couple strokes behind him. They were all pushing each other and everyone kept trying to go lower and lower. It was a fantastic team effort. We are thrilled with the accomplishment. We are going to get home and get ready to go to Fayetteville and try to bring home another National Championship."
Sophomore Walker Lee earned his third top-10 finish of the season when he tied for sixth shooting 10-under (67-66-67=200) at Regionals. He birdied three times on the back nine to counter a pair of bogeys, his only of the tournament, for a strong finish. Senior Chandler Phillips added another top-10 finish for the Aggies as he tied for seventh (64-70-67=201, -9). After a slow start, Phillips tallied four birdies on the day, shooting even or lower nearly the entire day.
Junior Brandon Smith and freshman Sam Bennett tied for 12th to round out the scoring players for the Aggies, each shooting 7-under in the tournament. After matching his career single round low in round two, Smith (69-65-69=203) played a nearly even round, birdieing on 18 to finish 1-under on the day. Bennett (69-67-67=203) got out to a hot start, tallying four birdies on the front nine to position himself for a top-15 finish in his Regional debut.
All three rounds of play saw scores from the Aggies that rank among the top three-performances in program NCAA Regional history. A&M set a new mark in Regional play shooting 33-under, which also ranks second overall in program history.
The Aggies advanced to their 32nd NCAA Championships as a team. The event will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, running Friday May 24 through Wednesday May 29. The top five teams and top individual that is not a member of the qualifying team advance to Championships.