Strong Start for Tigers At NCAA Golf Regional

The Auburn men's golf team performed well in the first round of the NCAA regional being held in cold Colorado.

Erie, Colo.--Starting slowly in cold, windy and rainy conditions, the Tigers warmed up as the weather did and find themselves in good shape after the first of three rounds at the NCAA Men's Golf Colorado Regional Tournament.

The Tigers shot an eight-under-par round of 280, which puts them in second place, four shots off the pace set by Oklahoma State, the nation's top-ranked team.

The top five teams at the 13-team event advance to the NCAA Championship scheduled for June 1-5 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.

A major reason Auburn is off to a good start is freshman Niclas Carlsson, who personally accounted for five of his team's under par strokes. He shot a 67 at the 7,753-yard Colorado National Golf Club on Thursday.

"Nic is a big-time player," said Auburn coach Nick Clinard. "He is a world class player. He has played all over the world and I forget that he is a freshman and makes freshman mistakes sometimes. He played great. The golf course is really set up well for him, and he has started to swing the golf club the best he has all year to be quite honest."

Kyle Kopsick shot a two-under-par 70 for the Tigers, who also counted a 71 from Michael Hebert and a 72 from their No. 1 player, Blayne Barber. Dominic Bozzelli's 74 did not go on the team score.

"We played great today," said Clinard. "When we teed off it was cold and raining and windy. It played tough the first three to four holes. It was hard to see. I think the guys got a little looser, more comfortable, got in the flow of it and played well."

The wind chill factor was below freezing when the Tigers started the tournament, which had a 90-minute delay before starting. The bad weather halted play late in day after most teams had finished their rounds.

"My ball striking was okay, but overall I played pretty well from tee to green," Carlsson said. "I made some good putts and my short game was solid today. It was a good round overall.

"I made some good birdie putts.," he noted. "I took the chances when I had them. I made a couple of 15-20 footers for birdie. I just tried to stay patient out there because you will have some chances, and you need to take them when you have them.

"It was tough in the beginning," the freshman added. "It was cold, and you needed to wear a lot of clothes to stay warm."

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