Men's Golf Tied For 2nd At NCAA Championships

Auburn put itself in good position after the first round of the Men's NCAA Golf Championships.

Pacific Palisades, Calif.—After the first day of the NCAA Men's Golf Championships No. 4 Auburn sits close to the top of the leaderboard at four-over-part, which is tied for second place with Florida and three shots behind tournament leader Alabama.

"We played well in spurts," said Auburn head coach Nick Clinard. "We got off to a decent start and through 10-11 holes, we were playing very well and there are some tough holes from 12-15, and we hit some pretty poor shots off the tee and let a few go. We had a few guys finish strong, and Niclas' bogeys on 17 and 18 hurt us."

Playing at Riviera Country Club, the Tigers got strong rounds from Blayne Barber and Dominic Bozzelli as both shot two-under par rounds of 69 to tie for fourth individually after day one.

Bozzelli finished the front nine with the same score as Barber, but did it in different fashion. After starting the day with a birdie, Bozzelli had a bogey on the second hole, which every Auburn golfer except Barber did. Bozzelli bounced back strong to gain the stroke back on the third hole before parring the next six holes.

After opening the back nine with back-to-back birdies, Bozzelli bogeyed the 12th hole before making pars the rest of the way to the clubhouse.

"I didn't have my best stuff hitting the ball, but I got off to a decent start with a birdie on No. 1," Bozzelli said. "Whenever I missed the greens, I had a lot of nice up and downs. Par is a pretty good score here. You just have to be patient because if you are not and you get too aggressive at some pins, you can make bogey in a hurry.

"It's important to get off to a good start as a team. We just need to go down to the range and work on some things that we have all been working on and hopefully come out and play well again tomorrow."

Barber started the game shooting a birdie and stayed consistent, shooting for par the rest of the way through the front nine.

On the back nine Barber remained consistent, making a birdie on the Par 5 17th with pars the rest of the way.

"It was a great round and was very solid," said Barber. "I played well. I didn't get into too much trouble. I made a few par putts on the front to keep the round going, and I was able to stay bogey-free and birdied two par 5s.

"Moving forward, it is important to start well as a team. We are in a great spot moving forward, and we get to go out on fresh greens in the morning and go at it again."

Niclas Carlsson's day started strong with a birdie on the first hole before he slowly fell apart. Bogeys on the second, four and ninth hole sent Carlsson to the back nine at +2.

Things didn't get better on the back nine. Despite a birdie on the 11th hole, Carlsson bogeyed four holes, including the 17th and 18th, before finishing the day at +5.

Will McCurdy had the most up and down day for Auburn. He had three birdies but also three bogeys on the front nine. Throw in a double bogey on the Par 4 seventh hole and McCurdy made the turn looking for consistency.

With early bogeys on both the 10th and 12th holes, he recovered to pick up a birdie on the 17th hole to finish the day at +3.

Michael Johnson struggled the entire day for the Tigers. On the front nine, he didn't make any birdies and bogeyed three holes. He didn't get his first birdie until the 11th hole, which occurred after he bogeyed the 10th.

Johnson's day then got even worse as he finished the back nine at +7, due to a bogey and two double bogeys over the next three holes after his birdie. After another double bogey on the 16th hole, Johnson finished the day at +10.

Because only the top four scores are taken, Johnson's score was dropped for the Tigers.

Auburn was paired with No. 5 UCLA and No. 6 USC. The Bruins finished the day tied for fourth after shooting +5. The Trojans currently sit tied for 24th after shooting +14.

Oklahoma (+5), Iowa (+6), Florida State (+6), Texas (+6), and Central Florida (+6), and North Florida (+6) round out the Top 10.

Auburn returns to the course tomorrow morning paired with UCLA and Southern California once again. The Tigers' tee time begins at 9:20 a.m. CDT on the 10th tee.

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