Men's Golf Headed To NCAA Championships

The Auburn men's golf team finishes strong and advances to NCAA Championship tournament.

Greensboro, N.C.-- The fourth-ranked Auburn men's golf team put together its best round of the NCAA East Regional on Saturday at the Grandover Resort with a two-under round of 286 to finish in third place and advance to the NCAA Championship tournament.

The Tigers shot 10-over for the tournament with a three-round score of 874, six shots behind first-place Liberty University and four shots behind second place Florida. Lamar University and Tulsa finished 13-over and 14-over, respectively, to round out the teams advancing to the NCAA Championship tournament.

Sitting two strokes back of fifth place, the Auburn men's golf team shot eight-under-par over the last four holes to surge back into a qualifying position.

"It is just hard to put into words," said Auburn head coach Nick Clinard. "The guys really hung tough and did what they had to do, and they just stuck to their game plan. Blayne Barber, you just can't say enough about what he did coming down the stretch."

The All-American Barber followed up a double-bogey on 14 with a birdie on 15, an ace on 16 and another birdie on 18 to move from five-over to a one-over par 73 for the third round.

"It was just struck absolutely perfectly, and it looked good the whole way, and I actually said go in when it was about to hit the green and it rolled and trickled in, and there it was," said Barber. "The biggest thing that I was very thankful for today was that I was very patient. I was playing great. I had two terrible breaks, and they both resulted in doubles.

"I was 5-over, but I didn't feel any different than yesterday," added Barber. "I just felt like it wasn't going my way so I was just extremely patient. The next thing you know I am 1-over after going 4-under on the next four. It's just golf. It is crazy, and you always just have to hang in there."

The junior finished in 4th place, one stroke behind Campbell University's Vaita Guillaume, Liberty University's Robert Karlsson and SMU's Matt Schovee, who tied for the individual title at three-under par for the tournament.

With six birdies and four bogeys on the day, Dominic Bozzelli carded a two-under 70 to finish the tournament at even par. The junior finished in a tie for 5th place after entering the third round in 12th.

"It just pumped you up," said Bozzelli after witnessing the ace from the 17th tee box. "Actually, I had to make sure that I didn't get too excited and had to take some deep breaths and focus in on my targets. I was right in the middle of it. After I birdied 16, I looked back and actually saw Blayne make the hole-in-one on 16. You get pretty pumped up. It was awesome out there.

"It feels pretty good," added Bozzelli. "It was a little closer than we wanted on the back nine there, but 15 through 18 was awesome. It was just really fun to be a part of it. Looking back on the disappointment, I know how it feels to be on the other side looking in. I am just really happy we were able to pull through and make it in today."

Niclas Carlsson had his best round of the Regional, carding a one-under-par 71 to finish five-over for the tournament. Carlsson scored two birdies over the Tigers four-hole run to close the round after shooting two bogeys and a double-bogey over the first five holes on the back nine.

Will McCurdy shot an even-par 72 on Saturday after shooting 10-over-par for the first two rounds.

Michael Johnson's six-over 78 in the third round was dropped and did not count towards Auburn's team total. Johnson had six bogeys and a double-bogey on the day, but carded an eagle on the par-five 18th hole.

The Tigers will travel to Pacific Palisades, Calif., to play in the NCAA Championship tournament at the Riviera Country Club from May 29-June 3.

"We are starting over now and going to have a chance to win a National Championship," said Clinard. "That is what we recruit for. That is what we practice for, and that's what we dream about. So, we are looking forward to it."

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