Men’s Golf: Commodores finish fifth in season opener at Pebble Beach

The reigning SEC champs began their season playing against a loaded field in the Carmel Cup.


Vanderbilt men’s golf began its season at Pebble Beach in California this past weekend. (Twitter/@Scottlimbaughvu).

Jaime Perez, Staff Writer

The Vanderbilt men’s golf team opened their 2021-22 season with a fifth-place finish at the Carmel Cup. From Sept. 3 to Sept. 5, the Commodores teed off at Pebble Beach Golf Links in their first event since their quarterfinal appearance at the NCAA Championships in June.

Fifth-year senior Harrison Ott said that to start the year playing at such a prestigious course was a great experience for the team.

“It was awesome,” he said. “There was a lot of excitement around going to Pebble Beach and getting back to taking team trips like that.”

While most members of the program spent the summer individually competing in different tournaments and qualifiers, the team preparation for the Carmel Cup was somewhat limited given that the tournament opened less than two weeks after the start of fall classes.

“I’d say the largest piece [of preparation] that we’ve been doing on campus has just been getting acclimated with each other as a team,” Ott said. “Especially the freshmen, or even the sophomores since their year last year was a little different than most.”

With the tournament being played as “six-count-five”—meaning that six players compete per team, but only the five best scores per round are counted—the No. 6 Commodores came into the tournament with high expectations, as the squad felt they had an advantage given their deep and talented roster.

In a competitive field that featured six teams ranked inside the top 20 of the Golfweek Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Vanderbilt finished the three day event in fifth place at 1-under, 17 strokes behind the winner, Oklahoma State.

“There were a lot of glimpses of positive things, but obviously the fifth-place finish wasn’t where any of us wanted it to be,” Ott said.

Senior Michael Shears and freshman Gordon Sargent, who impressed in his debut, led the Commodores with a 4-under score that tied them at sixth individually out of 48 competitors. Ott closed out the event at 3-under, giving Vanderbilt three players in the top ten of the event.

Junior Matthew Riedel, sophomore Cole Sherwood and junior William Moll rounded out the rest of the Commodores’ roster at 4-over, 8-over and 13-over, respectively.

Heading into the third and final round on Sunday, Vanderbilt was alone in seventh place as a team, but the squad was able to storm back with the day’s second-best score to jump Georgia and Mississippi State in the final standings.

“[The final round] definitely shows us our potential and gives us a little something to hang our hat on,” Ott said. “We were all just motivated after the second round, we all wanted to make [the third round] the best round for the week for us and we did, so that is a good stepping stone moving forward.”

Going forward, the Commodores expect to build on their Sunday performance as a team and individually. Now that every member of the program is settled in on campus, they will be able to spend more time with the coaching staff and focus on what they want to improve.

Despite the team’s overall finish, this weekend’s performance only made Ott more confident in his teammates’ abilities and the roster’s potential this season.

“I think we’re all excited about the nine guys we have on the team this year,” Ott said.The reigning SEC champions are scheduled to play four more events throughout the fall semester, including a new SEC Match Play Championship in October. But up next for the Commodores will be the Scenic City Collegiate from Sept. 20 to Sept. 21 at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee.