Men’s Golf: A clinic at the Hayt

Gordon Sargent and the Commodores began their spring season by blowing the competition out of the water, finishing 16 strokes better than any other opponent.


Vanderbilt Athletics

Gordon Sargent hoists his fourth career collegiate individual title on Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics)

Jonah Barbin, Sports Copy Editor

Vanderbilt tee’d off its spring season at the John Hayt Invitational this past weekend. The tournament took place on Feb. 5 and 6 at the Sawgrass Country Club in Pontre Verda Beach, Florida. The course had a par of 72.

The University of North Florida hosted the event. The Commodores played 36 holes on Sunday and 18 on Monday — the first time the Commodores took part in the Hayt since 2008, where they finished in a tie for 13th place.

“It’s important to us to get started the right way and try to send the right type of message about who we are going to be,” head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “I feel like we’ve had a productive offseason. The guys seem rested emotionally and physically ready to begin this climb.”

In the fall, Vanderbilt came out victorious in two of its four tournaments: The Frederica Cup and the Jones Cup. The field in the Hayt consisted of North Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Central Florida, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, Furman, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UAB.

The Commodores were dominant out of the gate on Sunday. Defending national champion and future Masters competitor Gordon Sargent came out firing on all cylinders, capturing first place after pacing the field with a two-round score of 134 and a jaw-dropping 64 in round 2. Reid Davenport — who was competing as an individual — topped all competitors in the first round, carding a 68. Davenport followed up his strong showing with a 69 in the second round, putting him in second overall. Jackson Van Paris was the third Commodore to finish in the top five on day one, as his two-round mark of 140 was good enough for a fourth-place tie.

Freshman Wells Williams’s Vanderbilt debut got off to a storybook start, as he recorded a hole-in-one on the 175-yard par three third hole.

All of these efforts propelled the Commodores to an eight-shot lead over, North Florida, the next closest team. Vanderbilt’s team score sat at an impressive -19. 

“I am very proud of how our guys played and handled themselves on the course today. Conditions were not easy, and we had some tough stretches, but we pushed through it and stayed positive,” said Limbaugh. “[Sargent] has been playing so well, and he continued that today. Playing his last 13 holes in 9-under is just amazing!”

On the final day of the Hayt, things somehow got even better for Vanderbilt.

Every Commodore finished at par or better, with Sargent once again leading the way with a 68. The team finished a collective 28 under par, 16 shots better than the closest competitor (North Florida). This performance solidified the Commodores as champions of the Hayt. 

Sargent secured his fourth career collegiate individual title. He shot 15 under par and carded a 201. 

“What an awesome effort this week by our team,” said Limbaugh. “They had a mindset of coming out today and finishing the right way and having the low round that we did.”

Four Vanderbilt golfers finished in the top eight of the tournament, as the team put on a clinic in every sense of the word.

“It was important to get off to a good start this spring and send the right kind of message and the guys did that,” Limbaugh said. “I believe in this group, and I know they are hungry to be the best they can be.”

With the victory, Vanderbilt has now won nine team titles since the start of the 2022 spring season.

The Commodores will be back in action on Feb. 19, when they’ll tee off at the Watersound Collegiate in Panama City Beach, Florida.