PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Look out. The Commodores are coming.
That’s the message the Vanderbilt golf team sent out to the rest of NCAA Division I golf over the last two days as they hammered a field that included defending champion and host North Florida and SEC opponents Alabama and Arkansas – on a golf course legendary for its difficulty.
The top-ranked Commodores posted a 9-under round Monday at the Sawgrass Country Club and broke the 54-hole scoring record to win The Hayt by 16 shots over UNF at 28-under 836 on a postcard day that followed 36 holes in cloudy, chilly and windy conditions Sunday.
Sophomore Gordon Sargent (67) led six Vanderbilt players among the top 14 with a record seven-shot victory over North Florida’s Nick Gabrelcik (70) at 15-under-par 201. Sargent, the defending NCAA individual champion who matched the record for low 18 holes with a 64 in the second round Sunday, set tournament records for overall score, score in relation to par and victory margin.
Greg Eason of Central Florida previously held the 54-hole record at 11-under 205 in 2014 and Clint Jensen of Tulsa had the record for the biggest margin at six shots in 1996.
The Vanderbilt golf team won The Hayt by a record score, topping the previous tournament record by nine shots.
“What an awesome effort this week by our team,” Vanderbilt coach Scott Limbaugh said. “They had a mindset coming out today and finishing the right way. It’s not easy to do something everyone thinks may be easy and it requires having the right focus on the right things.”
UNF has now finished second in the last two weeks, by 14 shots to No. 8 Florida at the Sea Best Invitational and now to Vandy.
“From a talent perspective, they’re two of the five or six best teams in the country,” Schroeder said of the Gators and Commodores. “I think Vandy might be the most dangerous team in the country by the end of the year, especially when they have the best player. We played really, really well and we just lost to a really good team.”
Vandy smashed the previous low team score for 54 holes of 845 by Clemson in 2021 and Oklahoma State in 2014. The Commodores broke the 18-hole team record with a 271 in the second round, five shots clear of six teams tied at 276.
Vandy has won nine of its last 12 tournaments, dating back to the fall of 2021. That stretch included the 2022 SEC championship, an NCAA regional and the NCAA stroke-play championship.
“It was important to get off to a good start this spring and send the right kind of message,” Limbaugh said.
It was a message delivered with a sledgehammer.
Vandy has so much depth that seniors Reid Davenport and William Moll, who were both Ping All-Americans last season, played this week as individuals, clearing the way for sophomore Jackson Van Paris and freshman Wells Williams to start.
Van Paris (72) tied for sixth at 4-under and Wells (72) tied for 11th at 2-under. And Wells, in his first college start, had a 12-hole stretch on Sunday in which he eagled three par-5s and made a hole-in-one at No. 3. He shot 68 in the second round.
Matthew Riedel (70) tied for fourth at 5-under and Cole Sherwood (70) tied for 14th at 1 under.
To put the Commodores’ domination into perspective, UNF’s 12-under score would have won or tied five of the last six Hayts. The Ospreys at least took second with little problem, beating Florida Gulf Coast by 17 shots and Alabama by 18.
“In a lot of years, that’s plenty good enough to win,” he said. “You can’t play defense in golf.”
Sargent began the day with a four-shot lead over Gabrelcik but put an end to any notion of a comeback when he birdied four of his first five holes. He birdied his last two to put an exclamation mark on his fourth college victory.
“Gordon is playing awesome golf and I am so proud of how he finished his round,” Limbaugh said. “He has such high demands for himself and that really helps set a standard for everyone.”
Sargent birdied four of his first five holes and then put the exclamation point on the day with two closing birdies.
“Gordon is playing awesome golf and I am so proud of how he finished that round today,” Limbaugh said. “He has such high demands for himself and that really helps set a standard for everyone.”
Austin Cherichella (69) of Florida Gulf Coast finished alone in third. Robbie Higgins (70) of UNF tied with Riedel for fourth and Davis Lee (71) tied for 11th. Justin Ross (70), playing as an individual, tied for eighth.
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