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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: Vanderbilt falls short of SEC Championship title

Vanderbilt made it to the final of the SEC Championship, but fell short to No. 1 Auburn.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Cole Sherwood hitting a shot at the SEC Championships, as photographed on April 28, 2024. (Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team traveled to St. Simons Island, Ga. to compete in the 2024 SEC Men’s Golf Championship from April 24-28. The tournament was held on the par-70 Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. Vanderbilt’s lineup included Gordon Sargent, Matthew Riedel, Jackson Van Paris, Cole Sherwood and William Moll.

After the first round of stroke play, Vanderbilt sat in first place after carding an 11-under 269. All five Commodores finished under-par during their first 18 holes of play. Sherwood led the team, firing a 66 to vault up the individual leaderboard. The Commodores went into round two with a one-stroke lead over Georgia and a five-stroke lead over Auburn. 

“I thought today was an outstanding start, and honestly I thought it was one of the best rounds we’ve played all year,” head coach Scott Limbaugh said.  

Vanderbilt held its lead after the second round, carding a 4-under 276. Sargent was able to find red figures for the second straight day, shooting 68. This allowed the Commodores to go into the final round of stroke play with a 36-hole total of 15-under 545.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time, one shot at a time, just like always but I’m excited to see how we play tomorrow,” Limbaugh said. “It’s a really important day, and we need to embrace that.”

The Commodores, however, lost their first-place lead in the final round, as they finished stroke play in third place, behind Auburn and Tennessee who finished in a tie for first place. They carded a 2-over 282 on Day Three to shoot a total of 13-under 827. Riedel was the only Vanderbilt player to shoot under-par on Day Three, finishing with a final round of 68. The Commodores advanced to match play as the No. 3 seed. 

“It was a tougher day with the wind, which was up for the first time this week, so I thought it was a great test for us,” Limbaugh said.

Going into match play, graduate student Matthew Ridel finished in a tie for second place, as he carded 12-under 827 over the three rounds of stroke play. Senior Cole Sherwood finished in the top 10 at 4-under 206. Junior Jackson Van Paris finished stroke play carding 1-under 209, finishing in a tie for 7th. Junior Gordon Sargent ended at even-par 210, where he ended in a tie for 23rd. 

“It is the SEC and you’ve got to bring it,” Limbaugh said. “We have to have more energy and more excitement and not play the game like it’s a burden. You’ve got to be excited for an opportunity every single time you get to tee it up from here on for the rest of the season. I expect our guys to come out with that kind of enthusiasm and that excitement to play closer to our standards than we did today.”

In the quarterfinals of match play, Riedel took Vanderbilt’s first point, securing a 6&5 win over Tyler Wilks. Van Paris defeated Parker Bell and gave the Commodores a 2-0-0 advantage. The Gators were then able to tie the match up at 2-2 after Sherwood and Sargent lost their respective matches. It came down to Moll who sank a four-foot putt in a playoff, securing the Commodores a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Florida. Vanderbilt moved on to the semifinals against No. 7-seed Texas A&M for the fourth straight season. 

“This is the SEC Championship and you’ve got to bring your best,” Limbaugh said. “There is no other option. I’m super proud of Matthew for winning his match and continuing to play good golf. Jackson was really solid in his first SEC Championship match and got the job done. William is in the back for a reason, because he has done this a lot. He has made a lot of big putts and gotten a lot of big points for us in his career and he did that again today. We’re going to need to be a little bit better this afternoon. We need our fans to hang in there with us and bring the energy.”

The Commodores started the semifinals with Sherwood winning the first point with a 4&3 victory over Phichaksn Maichon. The Aggies then tied the score with the Dores at 1-1-0 when Ridel was defeated by Michael Heidelbaugh. However, Sargent retook the lead, beating Daniel Rodrigues.. Van Paris was able to win the deciding point as he sank a 15-foot putt on Hole 20 against Jaime Motojo. This secured the Commodores a 3-1-1 victory and a place in the 2024 SEC Men’s Golf Championship against No. 1-seed Auburn.  

“Once again, another great opponent pushed us to the limit and our guys responded,” Limbaugh said. “That’s all you can ask for. Everything you do in building a program is for moments like that.” 

To begin the championship match, Auburn’s Jackson Koivun secured a 7&6 victory over Riedel. Auburn then moved ahead 2-0 when Moll fell to Carson Bacha on Hole 18. Van Paris came back in his match against Brendan Valdes, claiming a 3&1 victory. Sherwood also came out victorious with a 1-up win over J.M. Butler. Sargent then lost to Josiah Gilbert and Auburn secured the championship win.

For the second straight season, Vanderbilt fell short of the SEC title. 

“Give Auburn a lot of credit. We knew going in that they were a great opponent, so you tip your hat to them,” Limbaugh said. “For whatever reason, we came out a little bit flat today. That is my fault, and I take ownership of that. Just emotionally, I think yesterday took a lot out of us. We have to grow from this and keep learning about how we feel in these moments. I know our team will. I’m proud of them, I thought they battled.”

Now, Vanderbilt will wait to see where it is headed for the NCAA Regionals. The selection show will air on Golf Channel on May 1 at 1 p.m. CDT.

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Vrinat Michel
1 month ago

Great reading, congrats to the commodores !