Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics
A record-setting round vaulted the 10th-ranked (Golfweek/Sagarin) Texas A&M Aggies into first place at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational on Tuesday, while Ole Miss leads a bunched women's leaderboard heading into Wednesday's final round in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Aggies counted three subpar rounds by junior Daniel Rodrigues (66), sophomore Phichaksn Maichon (67) and senior Sam Bennett (68) along with an even-par 72 by senior William Paysse to blitz The Blessings Golf Club to the tune of 15-under 273 on Tuesday.
The 15-under round broke the tournament record by five strokes and the Aggies 36-hole score of 565 matches the Blessings Collegiate record, set by Arkansas last year. At 11-under 565, the Aggies will take a 12-shot lead over host Arkansas into Wednesday's final round.
Rodrigues surged into the individual lead on the strength of a 6-under 66 and at 9-under 135, will take a one-shot lead over Kansas' Gunnar Broin, who followed an opening round 65 with a 1-under 71 to sit at 8-under 136 with one round remaining.
Caden Fiori of UNLV is four back at 5-under 139.
Rodriques turned in 32 and after dropping a shot on hole No. 11, ran off three straight birdies on holes 15-17 for a second-round 66.
"Our goal as a team is to play efficient and clean, and Dani is doing those things," said Texas A&M head coach Brian Kortan said. "He's making a few putts and executing at a really high level. Rodi is a really good player. We're fortunate that he's on our side. He's put a lot of good shots together and he's sticking to the game plan."
Maichon made the biggest move on the individual leaderboard on Tuesday, jumping 28 spots into a tie for sixth place at 1-under following his second-round 67.
Bennett, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, rode four birdies to the house for an inward nine of 32 and a second round 68 (-4).
"It was just a great team effort, but the job's not finished," Kortan said. "We need to put another good round together tomorrow, which we can do by doing the same things that we did today and that's executing shots, playing the right way and just trusting what we do.
"We were just better all around today, and we still made some doubles. This golf course is challenging. There's not a shot out there that you can take a breather on. The guys strung a lot of great shots together and kind of fed off each other a little bit. It was really good golf. From A to Z, from one to 18, we put a lot of great shots together."
On the women's side, Ole Miss and its intrastate rival Mississippi State went in opposite directions on Tuesday.
The Rebels, 2021 NCAA Champions, shot 7-over 295 to overtake the Bulldogs, which shot 18-over 306 to slip into second place. The good news for Mississippi State is the Bulldogs are only two strokes behind the Rebels heading into Wednesday's final round, despite their second struggles.
Texas A&M is still very much in the fight. At 18-over 594, the second-ranked Aggies are just three back entering the final round.
UCLA (-1; 287) and Clemson (+3; 291) turned in the lowest rounds of the day to jump into the top five.
Ole Miss' Andrea Lignell took over the individual lead with a second-round 69 (-3) which left the Swede at 4-under for the tournament, good for a two-stroke lead over Mississippi State's Julia Lopez Ramirez, who followed an opening round 65 (-7) with a 77 on Tuesday.
"Andrea played a really solid round today," Ole Miss head coach Kory Henkes said. "She stayed cool, calm and collected throughout her round and hit some quality golf shots. She put herself in contention for the final round and that was the goal at the beginning of the week."
Cal's Annika Borrelli is five back at 1-over 145 (73-72).
GOLF Channel will have live final round coverage of The Blessings Collegiate Invitational beginning at 3:30 p.m. CT.
Texas A&M and Ole Miss Athletic Communications contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE Blessings Collegiate
Started in 2020, the Blessings Collegiate Invitational
features men’s and women’s teams competing in a 54-
hole stroke play format for individual and team honors.
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