Freshman's Key Shot Helps AU Make Nationals

The Auburn men's golf team has advanced to the NCAA Men's Golf Championship with a major assist by a spectacular shot by freshman Will Long.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers didn't play their best golf on their home course during the Auburn NCAA Regional, but they advanced to the nationals with room to spare although on Saturday afternoon it got too close comfort on the closing holes.

That is when freshman Will Long delivered for the Tigers with a double eagle two on the par five 16th hole, moving the Tigers from two strokes ahead of the cutline to five with one impressive swing of his fairway wood.

"Any time you get to the nationals it is a big accomplishment," said Long, who finished the third and final round with a three-under par 69 on the Auburn University Club Course thanks to the deuce on a par five.

"I was 277 out from the hole, probably about 15 yards downhill, so it was a 260-yard shot," Long told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I was really just trying to hit the green, two-putt and make a birdie.

"I hit a nice, perfect three wood that left the face really nicely, hit the front of the green and rolled right in," the freshman from Gastonia, N.C., added.

Asked the last time he had made a double eagle in competition or another round of golf, Long said, "Never. That was my first one."

Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Wichita, Kan., where they will play at the NCAA Championship at Prairie Dunes Course. They earned the trip by being one of five teams to qualify from the Auburn Regional for the 30-team NCAA Men's Golf Tournament that runs May 23-28. Alabama won the regional with an 11-under-par 853. Kennesaw State shot 875 to finish second. In fourth place, four shots behind Auburn, was Virginia Tech at 882 while the final qualifying spot when to Texas at 885, one shot ahead of New Mexico and BYU. Louisville and UC-Davis tied for ninth at 24-over-par 888 in the 14-team field.

Auburn head coach Nick Clinard noted the timing couldn't have been better for Long's clutch double eagle. "It was perfect," he said.

"I knew if we could make two or three birdies on 16 we would be in good shape," Clinard added. "We made two bogeys on 18, which is a little bit disappointing coming down to the end." However, despite those bogeys on missed short putts by Jake Mondy and Niclas Carlsson the Tigers qualified for the nationals with three shots to spare.

Freshman Matt Gilchrest talks to Coach Nick Clinard during the Auburn NCAA Regional.

Asked how he thought his Tigers played through the 54-hole event, Clinard said, "I thought the first day we played pretty well for 16 holes. The rest of the tournament I thought we were very tentative out of the gates. We have got to learn to handle it better, but we have three guys in the lineup who have never played in a regional."

Senior Carlsson was Auburn's most steady performer and finished as the low Tiger with a one-under-par 215 to finish in a tie for eighth place individually.

Nicklas Carlsson hits a chip shot on Saturday.

Carlsson shot rounds of 70, 72 and finished with a 73 on Saturday. "He is a little upset with his play today because he wants to win and he has been so close all year," Clinard said. "He is a big-time leader and it is a privilege to have him on the team."

Long finished a stroke back at 216 and was followed by Mondy at 222, Matt Gilchrest at 228 and Daniel Stringfellow at 234.

Auburn will be making its 19th appearance at the nationals and third straight under Clinard.

Commenting on the team, Long said, "We are excited about going to the nationals. We have come a long way this year. It was pretty rough in the fall and we didn't do too well, but we came back and had three wins in the spring."

The Tigers finished the first round of the regional in third place on Thursday and moved past Texas into second place by the end of Friday's round before dropping back to third behind a Kennesaw State team coached by former Auburn standout Jay Moseley.

NCAA Regional Scoreboard

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