HUTCHINSON, Kan. — For the seventh consecutive season the Texas A&M men’s golf team will compete for a national championship as the Aggies tee off at the 2014 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship on Friday.
The event will see 30 teams, including 10 from the Southeastern Conference, vie for the title. After three rounds of stroke play the field will be cut to eight teams who will compete in match play en route to crowning a national champion on Wednesday. The initial year of the match play format came in 2009 and saw the Aggies claim their first national championship.
“If you can get to the final eight and you get to play head-to-head against somebody, I don’t care what the format is, over one day anybody can beat anybody,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “That’s really our goal, get to match play, tee it up, and whoever they throw at us we’ll be ready to go.”
Competition will take place on the scenic Prairie Dunes Country Club, which will play at par 70 and 6,941 yards during the championship.
“It’s one of the best courses in the world,” Higgins added. “It’s like playing in Scotland in the middle of the United States. Great layout, really tough conditions, you have to be great golfer to get around it.”
The Aggies punched their ticket to nationals by carding a third-place finish at last week’s NCAA Raleigh Regional.
“(At regionals) Our guys were disciplined and they were poised,” Higgins said. “Their composure was fantastic, pretty much unflappable. The pressure got intense there for a little while, the weather conditions were pretty tough, and they didn’t let anything bother them. I was really impressed with that. If they have that same kind of attitude and mental toughness next week in Kansas, we’re going to be a tough team to deal with.”
The Aggies come to nationals riding one of the most impressive streaks of consistent success in the country. Among all collegiate programs, only Texas A&M has finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Championship in each of the last six seasons.
• The Texas A&M golf team is making its seventh straight NCAA Championship appearance and 30th overall ... action takes place Friday through Wednesday at Prairie Dunes Country Club (par 70/6,941 yards) ... one round is scheduled for each of the first three days, with match play getting underway on Tuesday.
• The Aggies earned a trip to Hutchinson with a third-place finish at the Raleigh Regional (849, -3) ... A&M sophomore Adrià Arnaus fired a final round 66 to finish in a tie for third at the regional, while junior Greg Yates carded a top-10 showing by ending play tied for ninth.
• Texas A&M is one of just five schools nationally that have advanced to the final site in each of the last seven years (UCLA, USC, Texas, Illinois).
• A&M won the program's first national championship in the first year of match play (2009) ... the Aggies finished in a tie for sixth last season, missing out on advancing to match play during a four-way playoff ... among all collegiate programs, only Texas A&M has finished in the top 15 in each of the last six seasons.
• A&M has finished third or better in seven of 12 tournaments this season... the Aggies shared top team honors with LSU at the Aggie Invitational at Traditions Club in early April ... additionally, A&M earned runner-up honors at the Dick's Challenge Cup (Sept. 20-21), Jerry Pate Intercollegiate (Oct. 7-8) and John A. Burns Intercollegiate (Feb. 19-21).
• Individually, Texas A&M sophomore Ben Crancer ranks No. 35 on the Golfweek/Sagarin player rankings.
• 10 of the NCAA Championship's 30-team field are from the Southeastern Conference.
TEXAS A&M LINE-UP
Adrià Arnaus (So. – 74.29 scoring average)
Ben Crancer (So. – 72.03)
Andrew Lister (So. – 72.95)
Johannes Veerman (Sr. – 75.00)
Greg Yates (Jr. – 72.21)
The tournament will begin with 54 holes of stroke play (18 each day) ... following that, the top eight teams will advance to match play to determine the national champion ... teams will be seeded 1 through 8 by order of finish in stroke play, and will face off in a bracket-style tournament with one round set for each day ... the championship is scheduled for Wed., May 28.
Live scoring will be available on ncaa.com ... ncaa.com will also provide a live video stream beginning Thursday ... the Golf Channel will also have live coverage beginning on Monday.
THE FIELD (30 TEAMS)
Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, California, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Iowa State, Kennesaw State, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, UAB, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Washington.
Texas A&M will be paired with Florida State and Texas for Friday's first round (7:00 a.m. CT, Hole No. 1) and Saturday's second round (12:20 a.m. CT, Hole No. 10) ... third-round pairings will be determined on Saturday evening.
HEAD COACH J.T. HIGGINS
• J.T. Higgins (Eastern Oregon State '89) is in his 13th season at the helm of the Texas A&M golf program ... Higgins has led the Aggies to a school-record 13 straight NCAA tournaments and guided the program to its first national championship in 2009.
• In 2012, Higgins was named the Big 12's Coach of the Year after guiding the Aggies to their first conference title since 1987 ... it was the second Coach of the Year honor of his career (2001 Mountain West COY while at New Mexico).
• Texas A&M golfers have earned 11 All-America honors under his watch ... two are currently playing on the PGA Tour, Bobby Gates and Martin Piller.
2013-14 SEASON AWARDS
• Golf Week National Player of the Week: Ben Crancer (Sept. 23)
• SEC Golfer of the Week: Greg Yates (Feb. 12)
• Team Awards: Ben Crancer (MVP), Andrew Lister (Most Improved), Newcomer of the Year (Jake Goodman), Johannes Veerman (BK Watson Award for Academic Excellence) and Greg Yates (Bob Ellis Coach's Award)