work ethic, depth has youthful men's golf team
poised for strong showing this spring
by Chandler Smith
The Texas A&M men’s golf team embarks on its spring season debut this week in hopes to clinch victory at the Sea Best Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
For the perennially-potent Aggies, it’s simply the first step to an exceedingly more ambitious, albeit familiar, goal.
Led by outstanding sophomores Ben Crancer and Andrew Lister, the Aggies could have one of their deepest teams in recent memory as they take to a tricky course to kick-start the second and final leg of the season. The rise of the dynamic duo in a better-than-expected fall gives further credence to Texas A&M as a program with considerable staying power in the collegiate golf ranks.
- JT Higgins, head coach
Yet just as Texas’ spastic winter weather makes way for the warmth of late spring, so the Aggies hope to heat up come post-season crunch time.
If the fall is any indication, Texas A&M head coach JT Higgins said he believes they have a shot.
“We’re farther along than I thought we’d be,” Higgins said. “I think we have the makings of a team that could be really good at the end of the year. They came back ready to play right off the bat. We were really competitive [in the fall] and showed that we can play with some of the best teams. ”
Crancer and Lister were a major reason why.
Through five tournaments, at least one of the two would finish ranked among the top 10 individual finalists. The duo’s performance in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Challenge Cup was especially encouraging, with Lister finishing in the top 10 boasting a score of 1-under par. Crancer, meanwhile, would blow the competition out of the water with a whopping 16-under-par performance, eventually seizing first place by seven strokes.
Crancer, even given his quick success, said he was pleased with the overall team performance in addition to his own achievement.
- sophomore Ben Crancer
“I think from the team aspect, we did really well,” Crancer said. “When we needed guys to step up, they stepped up. We’ve got a really deep team this year. It’s not any one guy or two guys, everybody can play well. That’s what the key is.”
The team is undoubtedly bolstered by veteran talent with intriguing potential. Familiar faces such as Jade Scott, Greg Yates, Tyler Dunlap and Johannes Veerman continue to deliver, at various times, brilliant performances in their own right.
The goal will be more consistent performances from a squad that, as Crancer says, could potentially reach the same level of depth as the 2009 national-title-winning team.
Higgins, though shooting down any pre-mature excitement, expressed his long-term optimism given the work ethic of the team.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Higgins said. “But it really is, from top to bottom, any given week the No. 5 guy could play the No. 1 spot and vice-versa. The great thing is that they work hard and they’re all getting better. If we keep making progress like we did in the fall, we’re going to be a pretty good team in May.”