Men's Golf Headed To NCAA Championships

Auburn got big rounds from Daniel Stringfellow and Ryan Benton to advance to the NCAA Championships.

Lubbock, Tex.--Needing a strong final round to advance to the NCAA Championships, the Auburn men’s golf team got just that on Saturday as Daniel Stringfellow fired a 67 (-4) and Ryan Benton added a 68 as the Tigers shot a final round 280 (-4) to finish seven under par as a team.

That was good enough for a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Lubbock Regional, inside the five-team cut line needed to advance to the NCAA Championships on May 29-June 3 in Bradenton, Fla.

“It’s huge,” Auburn Coach Nick Clinard said. “This is a great group of young men and they’ve worked so hard, they deserve it. They put their heart and soul into trying to improve and be better golfers. It’s just nice to watch them have success.

“We’ve made it four years in a row now and there is never a dull moment,” he added. “There is a lot of parity in our sport with only four and a half scholarships. There are a lot of great coaches and good programs. Regionals are tough, but at the end of the day I knew we had five great players and that cream would rise to the top.”

Locked in a battle Purdue, Louisville, Houston and Southeastern Louisiana for one of the final spots, the Tigers raced out to a six under par front nine and held on to move forward. Michael Johnson (+1), Ben Schlottman (+2) and Matt Gilchrest (+6) rounded out the day for the Tigers, but there was no question Stringfellow and Benton were the keys on Saturday.

“Dan and Ryan had great rounds and great finishes coming down the stretch there,” Clinard said. “They really kind of put the team on their backs and finished strong.”

Turning to his second nine holes at -3 following an eagle on the 578-yard, par five 18th hole before giving two shots back on the second and third holes, Stringfellow rebounded to birdie the fourth hole to get back on track. The biggest moves of the day came on holes eight and nine, his final two holes on Saturday, as he birdied both to provide what would prove to be the difference between fourth place and a tie for fifth.

“Dan birdied eight and nine and hit some quality golf shots in there and made some big putts,” Clinard said. “M.J. made a great putt on eight, it was probably breaking 10 to 12 inches. The guys overall just made some quality shots and made some putts when it mattered after we really didn’t make a lot of putts the whole week.”

Texas (-22) and Texas Tech (-18) ran away with the top two spots in the regional with Duke (-8) coming in a distant third. The drama came with Houston (-5) and Purdue (-5) tying for the fifth spot, forcing a playoff to advance.

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