OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – Most teams have their starting lineup set in stone by the postseason.
Not Texas A&M.
Head coach J.T. Higgins isn’t afraid to make late-season lineup changes. He did it before winning last year’s NCAA Championship, and again this year.
Higgins replaced John Hurley with Conrad Shindler in the starting lineup after Hurley tied for 30th in regional competition. Shindler last played at the Big 12 Championship, tying for 12th. Texas A&M was second in both tournaments.
Shindler is No. 56 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, while Hurley is No. 244. Both players were in the starting five at last year’s NCAA Championship.
“I thought Conrad’s game fit the golf course,” Higgins said. “Conrad’s playing a little bit better. It’s tough. It’s not that John’s playing bad. It’s just that the other guys are playing better. There’s no shame in not making our lineup right now.”
Higgins said he made the switch because of Shindler’s strength with the driver and wedges. “He hits a lot of fairways. He hits it far, he hits it straight. I think he’s going to be able to keep it in play really well. (Hurley’s) been struggling with his ballstriking all semester.”
Hurley tied for 30th in stroke play at last year’s NCAA Championship, then went 2-0-1 in the match-play portion, including a 6-and-4 victory over Arkansas’ Ethan Tracy in the championship match. Hurley is one of the longest hitters in college golf.
Shindler tied for 13th in stroke play last year, then went 1-2 in match play.
Last year, Higgins replaced Ignacio Elvira with Shindler for the NCAA Championship after Elvira finished 43rd in the West Regional.