A record-setting season for Texas A&M drew to a close Tuesday at Karsten Creek Golf Club as top-ranked Oklahoma State outlasted the Aggies, 3-1-1, during the quarterfinals of match play at the NCAA DI Men's Golf Championships.
“That was such a terrific match,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “It went back and forth the whole time. I’m so proud of our guys, they just never gave up or gave an inch. If a couple breaks go our way then we’re on the other side of things. Everyone is disappointed, but at the same time I think we’re holding our heads really high because it’s been an unbelievably successful season.”
Oklahoma State will now move on to face Auburn while Duke will face Alabama in the other semifinal matchup.
“Only one team is going to win a championship when it’s all said and done,” Higgins added. “To make it to the final eight and take the No. 1 team in the nation down to the wire on their home golf course just speaks volumes about this team’s gird, heart and pride. They were playing for the 12th Man and they gave it their all. I hope everybody is as proud of them as I am.”
The Cowboys were in control much of the round and at one point led in four of the five matches and were all-square in the fifth, but Texas A&M fought its way back into the match to take the momentum. With the remaining four matches winding down, the Aggies took the lead in two matches and squared the remaining two.
OSU sophomore Viktor Hovland flipped the match back in the Cowboys’ favor, however, as he polished off a 19-hole victory over A&M’s Chandler Phillips before freshman Austin Eckroat delivered the deciding point with a two-putt birdie on 18 that helped him best Brandon Smith.
Senior Andrew Paysse, whose long putt on his final hole of the day Monday helped the Aggies clinch a spot in match play, put the lone point on the board for the Aggies as he defeated OSU’s Zach Bauchou 1&1. Paysse wrestled control of the match away from Bauchou with a birdie at No. 16.
The Aggies put together an impressive 2017-18 campaign which saw them enter the NCAA Championship ranked second in both the Golfstat and Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Texas A&M won a school-record six tournaments this season and finished among the top three in 10 of 14 tournaments.
Three different Aggies won individual medalist honors this season, including the first career wins by Dan Erickson and Walker Lee as well as four by Phillips which left the Huntsville, Texas, native owning the school record for career victories with six. Additionally, Phillips’ 70.33 scoring average set a single season Texas A&M record, topping a 71.15 mark he posted last season.
“I’m really proud of this season and these guys, it really is a special group for me personally,” Higgins said of his squad. “I’m very thankful and proud I got to be their coach.”
NO. 1 OKLAHOMA STATE DEF. NO. 8 TEXAS A&M, 3-1-1
Viktor Hovland (OSU) def. Chandler Phillips (A&M), 19 holes
Matthew Wolff (OSU) def. Dan Erickson (A&M) 4&3
Kristoffer Ventura (OSU) vs. Walker Lee (A&M), A/S
Austin Eckroat (OSU) def. Brandon Smith (A&M), 1 Up
Andrew Paysse (A&M) def Zach Bauchou (OSU), 1&1