SALEM, S.C. – The No. 14 Texas A&M men’s golf team fought off elimination on the final day of the NCAA Salem Regional, topping the host Clemson Tigers in a one-hole playoff Wednesday afternoon to finish in fifth place and claim the final ticket to next week’s NCAA Championship.
The Aggies used a monumental comeback to force the playoff with Clemson. Trailing the cutoff for the final spot by as many as 14 strokes near the midway point of the third round, the Maroon & White posted 14 birdies on the final seven holes and played -11 over the span. The barrage of birdies included three on hole No. 18.
Sam Bennett shot 7-under 65 to lead the charge, recording 5-under 31 on the back nine, including birdies on four of the last five holes. His birdie on No. 18, the Aggies’ final hole of stroke play, forced the playoff against Clemson.
One golfer from each team was paired up on holes 14-18 for the first hole of the sudden death playoff. Vishnu Sadagopan dropped the deciding putt on No. 14 with a par while his opponent Kian Rose bogeyed. The biggest shot of the playoff was likely Phichaksn Maichon’s 55-yard putt to eagle No. 16. His putt came moments after Clemson’s Zack Gordon dropped in a 60-footer for eagle.
William Paysse parred No. 15 to match Thomas Higgins and Daniel Rodrigues gained a stroke for the Aggies at No. 17 with a par against Jonathan Nielsen’s bogey. Bennett recorded a par on 18 with Clemson’s Andrew Swanson pouncing with a birdie.
In stroke play, Rodrigues set up the Bennett last-hole heroics with a birdie of his own on No. 18, draining a 20-foot putt.
Maichon was also hot late in the round, posting birdies on four of his last six holes. He birdied nine holes in the round, posting a 6-under 66.
Texas A&M fired a 17-under 271 on the day, including their 11-stroke surge on the final seven holes in Wednesday’s action on The Cliffs at Keowee Falls, a par-72, 7,126-yard course.
The Aggies headed into the final round at 12-under, trailing Northern Illinois (-23) by 11 strokes for the coveted fifth-place spot. The Maroon & White also had Georgia Southern (-18), Clemson (-16) and San Diego State (-12) making a run to the cutoff line. Northern Illinois faded on the day, posting a 288 to finish 23-under 841. The other four schools duked it out with Texas A&M and Clemson knotted at…
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