Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Shooting their best round of the three-day regional on Wednesday, a five-under-par total of 283, the Auburn Tigers advanced to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships.
Coach Nick Clinard’s Tigers finished fifth in the 13-team Tuscaloosa Regional. That was eight shots better than UNLV, which was sixth and did not make the cut for nationals, which will run May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Oregon.
Jacob Solomon led the Tigers with a two-under-par 70 on Wednesday at the Ol’ Colony Golf Club, one shot ahead of teammates Will Long, Michael Johnson and Ben Schlottman and two ahead of Matt Gilchrest.
"The guys played fantastic," Clinard told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "They knew what they had to do and they went out and got it done.
"All five guys played well," the Auburn coach pointed out. "Everybody shot par or better. I would like to see them do that all of the time. They came through in the final round of regionals and played a beautiful round of golf."
All five teams that qualified from the regional are from the SEC led by the Georgia Bulldogs, who shot a 16-under-par 848, four strokes ahead of South Carolina.
The host, Alabama, was third at 857, one shot ahead of Kentucky and 10 ahead of Auburn.
Auburn posted a 294 total on Monday, improved four strokes on Tuesday and the Wednesday round was 11 shots better than the day one performance.
Long, who finished at one-under-par 215, was Auburn’s top performer at the regional and finished in a tie for 10th individually. Long, Johnson and Solomon finished at 216 while Schlottman was five-over-par at 221.
“It feels awesome,” Long said. “This was our main goal to get through here. You can’t win a national championship without getting through the regionals. We did part one. Hopefully, we make match play. That is our main goal. Anything can happen then.
“I hit the ball well. I made a lot of putts. I am pleased with how I played this week.”
Solomon noted that he enjoyed his first NCAA regional competition. “It feels really special,” he said. “Since I am a freshman, this is what we have played for all season. We accomplished our goal, and it is all good.”
Auburn will make its fifth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship after finishing 12th last year. Only four other teams have qualified for the nationals the past five seasons.
Clinard said it is a relief to see his team, which has been ranked as high as No. 1 nationally, bounce back after having some late season struggles. "We have had some good events, and we won twice this spring, but we haven't played as well in the last two outings before regionals," he said.
Next up is a trip across the country to try to win the first team national golf championship in school history.
"It is a difficult course," he said of Eugene Country Club. "One of our guys, Ben Schlottman, played there last summer. It puts a premium on driving the golf ball. There is a lot of rough and really, really small greens."