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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Men’s Golf: Losing the Tennessee Tussle

After two impeccable days of stroke play, Vanderbilt came up just short against their in-state rivals.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt men’s golf competes at The Prestige on Feb. 23, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Commodores were back in action this past week after a dominant win at the Frederica Cup earlier in the month. Yet, they fell short just short of beating Tennessee in the SEC Match Play Tournament Championship, losing 3-2. 

Vanderbilt came into the SEC Match Play Tournament with sky-high confidence, as they are the two-time defending SEC champions. Last year in the same event, the Commodores made the championship match against Arkansas but lost 3-2.

The event took place at Old Overton Club in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and was hosted by Jerry Pate. The tournament served as a preview for the SEC Championships that will occur in April.

“Our guys are really excited about this event and this format,” head coach Scott Limbaugh said before the tournament. “I think it gives us great preparation for what we can see later in the year which is a great thing.”

There were 36 holes of stroke play Sunday (Sept. 25) and 18 holes of stroke play Monday (Sept. 26). The top two teams squared off in a match play format Tuesday (Sept. 27) while the rest of the squads faced each other in a match play format for the final placement. The rotation for Vanderbilt consisted of Gordon Sargent, Cole Sherwood, William Moll, (the Frederica Cup champ) Reid Davenport and Matthew Riedel.

The Commodores came scorching out of the gate on Sunday, finishing the day at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a collective 32 under par. Sargent led the way, finishing first in the field of 70 players after firing a 66 and 64 in the opening two rounds. He hit two eagles and 13 birdies in what was an extremely impressive outing for the Commodore star. Riedel and Davenport also performed well, with Riedel shooting a collective 131 (tied for second) and Davenport shooting 133 (tied for fifth). 

Sherwood and Moll had solid days on the course as well, both finishing under par on the day. Moll notably notched an ace in his opening round on the 12th hole, a par 3.

“So proud of how all the guys competed out there today,” Limbaugh said after Sunday’s matches. “They were excited to play this week and today I think that enthusiasm showed. When we take the right approach mentally we are a good team.”

The Commodores delivered another dominant performance on Monday, finishing the event’s stroke play at an impressive 39 under par and in first place.

The story of the day was Riedel, who shot 13 under par overall and won his first collegiate individual championship. Sargent finished tied for second, just one stroke behind. Sherwood rounded out the trio of Commodores in the top 10, shooting 8 under par.

“Matthew played really well today and I just couldn’t be prouder of him,” Limbaugh said after Monday’s matches. “Going bogey-free out there today was really great golf.”

Vanderbilt and Tennessee finished as the top two teams in the tournament, setting them up for a clash for the title of SEC Match Play champions on Tuesday.

“Tuesday is another great opportunity for our guys,” Limbaugh said before the match on Tuesday. “Match play is a lot of fun and we need to reset after today’s finish and be ready to go from the start.”

The Volunteer-Commodore battle certainly did not disappoint. Sargent and Riedel won their matches, while Moll and Sherwood lost to tie the teams at two. Everything rested on the shoulders of Davenport. Down four points with four to play, Davenport caught fire, winning the 15th, 16th and 17th holes. Unfortunately, both he and Tennessee’s Bryce Lewis parred the 18th, giving Tennessee a 3-2 victory. 

“[I’m] just super proud of how we competed,” Limbaugh said after the tournament. “There are always lessons to learn in these matches. If we handle it the right way, it’s good for us because success and all of this sometimes can make you disregard having to do the little things the right way.”

The loss is only the Commodores’ second defeat in their last seven regular-season events. Vanderbilt remains ranked No. 1 in the Bushnell/Golfweek DI Coaches Poll, receiving 14 of the possible 16 first-place votes.

“We certainly aren’t happy about the result, and we’ve got a quick turnaround to head to one of the best regular season events of the year,” Limbaugh said, referring to the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational.

The invitational will begin on Oct. 3 and will take place at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

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About the Contributor
Jonah Barbin
Jonah Barbin, Sports Podcast Producer
Jonah Barbin (‘25) is majoring in human and organizational development and cinema and media studies. In addition to writing about sports, you can catch him acting, scouring the fantasy football waiver wire, playing golf and fantasizing about what Odell Beckham Jr.’s career would have been if the Giants never traded him. You can reach him at [email protected].
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