It is not always the way a team starts, but the way it finishes, and the Commodores were the epitome of the old saying on Tuesday in the final round of the Nike Collegiate Invitational, when Vanderbilt combined to make 15 birdies on the back nine of the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Witch Hollow Course to finish third at the prestigious tournament in Portland, Oregon with a final total of 18-under par, 834 (276-281-277).
The Commodores, who entered the day in fifth place in the team standings, vaulted up the team leader board with a third-round score of seven-under par 277 with the strong back-nine showing. Junior Will Gordon carded a bogey-free 66 on Tuesday, which included a back-nine 30 to lead Vanderbilt for the day and for the week. The junior from Davidson, N.C., ended the tournament in fourth place with a final score of 202 (67-69-66).
Gordon was not the only Vanderbilt player who made birdies on the back nine. Fellow junior Patrick Martin made four and finished his Tuesday round with a three-under, 68, senior Michael Decker carded three birdies, junior Theo Humphrey made two, and sophomore John Augenstein made one on his back nine.
For the day, each Commodore player was involved in the final score, with Vanderbilt counting Gordon’s 66, Martin’s 68, a one-under par, 70, from Humphrey, and a pair of 73’s from Decker and Augenstein.
Humphrey joined Gordon in the top 10 with a 10th-place finish and a final score of 207 (67-70-70), with Martin finishing in the top 20 with an 18th-place finish and a total of 209 (70-71-68).
"I am extremely excited about how the guys competed today,” said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh. “We talked a lot last night about how important today's round was going to be and we kind of challenged ourselves to step up. Obviously, Gordo played awesome today with a bogey-free 66 and a 30 on the back nine in the toughest conditions of the week. It was good to see Patrick play well because he's been close each round and he got a few putts to fall today. Theo had another really solid week for our team and I am proud of how he hung in there this week."
The Commodores finished third behind team champion Oklahoma and second-place Stanford. Individually, Oregon’s Norman Xiong won medalist honors with a 13-under par, 200 (65-68-67).
"This was a good step for us to build some momentum and compete the way we know how, but we have to get better before our next event,” said Limbaugh. “We aren't disappointed with where we are as a team, but we certainly do have a lot we can improve on."
The Commodores return to the course for another great event October 22-24 at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in Windermere, Fla.
3. Vanderbilt - 276-281-277=834
4. Will Gordon - 67-69-66=202
T10. Theo Humphrey - 67-70-70=207
T18. Patrick Martin - 70-71-68=209
T46. Michael Decker - 72-71-73=216
60. John Augenstein - 76-74-73=223