Needing to play well in round three of the tournament to be one of the five teams that advance to the national event, the Tigers posted their best round of the tournament with a team total of two-over-par 286. That allowed them to qualify for the nationals with nine shots to spare.
"The guys played great," Coach Nick Clinard said. "We talked about it last night. We have played a lot of hard courses all year and played very well all year. I told them we are more prepared for this moment than any team here. They went out and really performed well today on a really tough golf course."
Senior Dominic Bozzelli led the Tigers in the third and final round, posting a two-under-par 69. Individually, Bozzelli finished at one-over-par 214, which tied him for second place in the 13-team field that featured 75 golfers.
"It is great to see a guy who works so hard at it, and is so competitive, to go out there and play well," Clinard said of Bozzelli. "He is a great player and we are hoping for him to have a chance to perhaps win it all in two weeks."
Fifth-ranked New Mexico, the region's top seed, won the tournament with an 870 total, two shots better than 18th-ranked Auburn and South Carolina. UNLV finished fourth at 878 and the final team to make the cut was Texas Tech at 879.
Junior Niclas Carlsson and sophomore Michael Johnson came through for the Tigers on Saturday with even par rounds of 71. Johnson posted a scorecard with 12 pars, three birdies and three bogeys. Carlsson finished with 11 pars, four birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey.
The Tigers also counted a 75 from senior Michael Hebert, AU's No. 1 player going into the tournament. Hebert struggled throughout the event, finishing at 16-over-par. The team did not have to count a 77 from freshman Jake Mondy, who posted the team's low round on Friday.
Johnson finished in a tie for seventh place at 216. Carlsson and Johnson tied for 25th with a 222 and Hebert shot 229 to tie for 58th place.
The Tigers are shown following play on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Shown left to right are assistant coach Evan Osteen, Jake Mondy, Niclas Carlsson, Dominic Bozzelli, Michael Johnson, Michael Hebert and head coach Nick Clinard.
The top five teams from the six regional tournaments will compete at the NCAA Championship scheduled for May 28-June 2nd at the Capital City Club in Atlanta.
The Tigers were fifth after the first day of play and moved into a tie for third after round two after firing a nine-over-par total of 293, the same score as their opening round on Thursday.
Clinard said the only disappointment was that the Tigers didn't finish in first place at the regional, but added, "We showed a lot of heart today, a lot of guts. Niclas Carlsson came back and played very well today after struggling the first two rounds. Having the freshman, Jake Mondy, play two-under-par in the second round was big for us."
A key to Auburn's improved score on Saturday was finishing six-under-par on the course's three par five holes. "We struggled the first two days on the par fives," Clinard said. "We talked about it last night. We tried not to harp on it too much."
A week earlier the AU women's team qualified for the national tournament, too, which will be played in Athens, Ga., starting on Tuesday at the University of Georgia course.