Led by three players under par, No. 2 Texas A&M climbed five spots on the leaderboard into a tie for ninth place on Thursday during the second round of competition at the 2018 SEC Men’s Golf Championship.
With 18 holes remaining in the stroke play portion of the event, the Aggies (296-277=573, +13) will be looking to climb into the top eight of the team standings to advance to match play. The quarterfinals begin Saturday and a league champion will be crowned after a deciding match on Sunday. The Aggies, who were three-under par as a team during the second round, enter Friday’s final round of stroke play just two shots back of eighth-place Florida (+11).
“I’d say you have to call today a success,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “Our goal for the day was to cut our distance to the cutline in half and we’re now only two shots back of eighth. Our goal is to be playing in match play on the weekend. We’ve still got some work to do and we need to put together a great round tomorrow, but I know our guys are excited about that opportunity. They did a great job of putting us in position today to make sure we keep playing and have a chance to win and SEC Championship.”
No. 11 LSU leads the field at three-under par, ahead of No. 4 Vanderbilt (-1), No. 6 Alabama (+3), No. 34 Ole Miss (+5) and No. 9 Auburn (+6), who round out the top-five schools on the leaderboard.
Four of the five members in the Aggie lineup improved on their opening round during their second turn on Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course Thursday. Freshman Walker Lee (74-68=142, +2) and junior All-American Chandler Phillips (75-68=143, +3) each produced two-under scorecards of 68 to ascend the player standings. Lee was the biggest mover of the day, surging up 18 spots into a tie for 18th place while Phillips stands alongside teammate Andrew Paysse (74-69=143, +3) with a share of 26th.
Rounding out the A&M contingency on the Peach State coast were Brandon Smith (73-74=147, +7) and Dan Erickson (79-72=151, +11) in 50th and 65th place, respectively.
“Great job today by everybody,” Higgins added. “They all battled and hung in there. We made a bunch more birdies, I think we had more through six holes today than we did all day yesterday. 22 birdies in all gave us a great opportunity to put a good score on the board. Three-under was terrific but I think we can do even better. Our guys are playing with a lot more confidence and figuring things out.”
The 2018 SEC Men’s Golf Championship concludes Friday with a third and final round of stroke play before the field is culled to eight schools for match play. Texas A&M begin teeing off at 8 a.m. (CT) alongside golfers from Arkansas and South Carolina with results and live scoring available on golfstat.com.