ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The Vanderbilt men's golf team secured the program's first Southeastern Conference Championship on Monday at the Sea Island Golf Club.
The Commodores were perfect at the SECs as they finished first in the stroke play competition, then went 3-0 in match play. On Monday, Vanderbilt edged Texas A&M 3-2 as the clinching match needed 23 holes to decide it.
"I think I'm a little older this week than we started," Vanderbilt coach Scott Limbaugh said. "It's been an amazing journey. I think these guys earned it this week. We dominated the last round of stroke play, and we talked about being the best at the end, and we were the best at the end of this match. We're excited. ... This is a resilient group. None of the three matches were easy for us. We fought and fought and fought and showed a tremendous amount of character. That's what we've tried to build this program on."
John Augenstein lifted the Commodores to the win as he topped Andrew Paysse on the par-4, 417-yard 14th hole. After an errant tee shot to the right of the cart path, Augenstein found a gap and dropped his approach to within 15 feet. Paysee was short of the green on his approach from the fairway and then chipped up to eight feet. Augenstein's lag was good enough for a pickup, then Paysee was unable to convert his putt, setting off the Vanderbilt celebration.
Augenstein had been the hero of Vanderbilt's win over 3-2 win over Florida in the semifinals as he won on the second extra hole.
"The tee shot wasn't all that bad," Augenstein said. "I missed my mark by about 10 yards and I ended up being next to the cart path, and I got a really solid drop. Coach (Dusty) Smith and I decided that anything short of the green would be an easy up and down to try and make par. With him in the fairway, I didn't think he was going to make bogey. But I absolutely pured it up and over the tree and it actually came down pretty close.
"It's just a huge confidence booster for sure. Being a freshman all year, although I don't really feel like a freshman any more, I've been through a lot. But it's still golf. I've had big tournaments and big matches, but nothing where I've been this nervous on the golf course. Normally, you just play for yourself, but out here in match play, you're playing for the other guys in the van. These guys are my brothers and I love every single one of them."
Patrick Martin secured the first point for Vanderbilt as he knocked off Brandon Smith 6&5. Theo Humphrey secured the second Commodore point with a 3-up win over Dan Erickson.
The Aggies picked up their two points from Cameron Champ and Chandler Phillips. Champ topped Will Gordon 2-up and Phillips defeated Matthias Schwab 1-up.
"We talked about taking steps and this is a big one for us to knock down that barrier," Limbaugh said. "We think we have a special group. The challenge will be to get a little bit better between now and postseason, but I'm just happy for the boys. We're going to enjoy this one." "We have a lot of fighters," Augenstein said. "We have a lot of guys that battle and don't give in. Coach is really big on that. You just never really know in match play, or in anything, what the other guy is going to do. There are so many things that go into it - the pressure and anything like that. I just think we have fighters on the team, battlers who believe in each other and love each other and want the best for everyone. That's a big part of it - playing for each other."