TEMPE, Ariz. — An opening round featuring five birdies from junior Johannes Veerman highlighted the Texas A&M men’s golf team’s first day at the NCAA Tempe Regional on Thursday.
“I thought we did so many things well today, especially for the first 14 or 15 holes,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “We were playing outstanding golf but it’s a shame we let some shots slip away from us coming in because we had a chance to separate ourselves a little bit from the field. In the end, we still have 36 holes of golf left and we are right there where we need to be, so if we play well the next two days we’ll advance. We just need to shore up some things on our finishing holes and we’ll be good.”
On the team leaderboard, the No. 20 (GolfWorld/Nike Golf Coaches' Poll) Aggies sit in a five-way, even-par tie for fourth place after 18 holes on Arizona State’s Karsten Golf Course (Par 70, 7,036 yards). Fourth-ranked UCLA (268, -12) leads the event while No. 10 Duke (278, -2) and Austin Peay State (279, -1) follow in second and third place, respectively.
Sharing fourth place alongside A&M (280, E) is No. 16 Georgia, North Carolina, Clemson and UCF, while Vanderbilt (283, +3), Arizona State (284, +4), New Mexico State (285, +5), Kennesaw State (288, +8), Arizona (292, +12) and Lehigh (301, +21) trail consecutively.
Starting his round on the No. 10 tee box Thursday morning, Veerman (67, -3) quickly climbed the leaderboard with three consecutive birdies beginning at No. 13. After making the turn, the Sugar Land, Texas, product carded birdies on No. 2 and No. 5 before a double bogie on No. 6 provided the only blemish on his first-round scorecard.
“Johannes played outstanding today,” Higgins said of Veerman. “He had a chance to have a really great round but the double bogie was a bad double and I’m sure he wishes he could have his chip shot on that hole back. It was really the only bad shot he had all day, other than that he was just fantastic.”
Veerman will enter Friday’s second round in a tie for fourth place, trailing leader Dustin Korte (64, -6) of Austin Peay State by just three strokes.
Senior Cameron Peck (68, -2) also finished under par, ending the day at two-under. The Olympia, Wash., native’s round featured five birdies compared to three bogies, leaving him in a tie for sixth place in the individual standings.
“Cam was great again today but as a team we really just had a few too many big numbers,” Higgins added. “We had three doubles and a triple-bogie and still shot even par so there are a lot of birdies to be had out there and the course is scorable. We just can’t give them back in bunches like that.”
Sophomore Greg Yates (72, +2) was in line to end the day at even par after a pair of birdies and two bogies, however, Yates carded a double bogie on his final hole of the day to fall to 42nd place at two-over par.
“I look for us to be a little smarter tomorrow,” Higgins said. “We need to take a little bit better care of our shots and not give away too much. We’re hitting the ball great and we are putting and chipping solid as well. Everything is looking really good, it was just a couple loose shots that cost us today. If we can take care of those and make sure we keep it in play off the tee than we’ve got a chance to put a great score up on the board tomorrow.”
The tournament’s second round is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. (CT) Friday with the Aggies paired alongside golfers from Georgia and North Carolina in the first group to tee off at hole No. 1.
Live scoring is available at GolfStat.com.