Michael Johnson (right) is senior for Coach Nick Clinard's (right) Tigers.
Eugene, Ore.--The Auburn Tigers improved 13 strokes from day one to day two at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, but they still have major work to do to get past the 54-hole cut that will be made on Sunday.
The Tigers shot a one-over-par 281 on Saturday at the Eugene Country Club course and moved up to 15th place after finishing 26th following the opening round. The top 15 teams from the 30-team field will remain in the tournament before cutting to eight teams after 72 holes and beginning match play.
Auburn, which got off to a strong start on the front nine on Saturday, moved into fifth place at one point when it nine-under-par for the day, but did not have as much success on the back nine.
Matt Gilchrest led the Tigers with a one-under-par 69 on Saturday, two shots better than his opening round.
Michael Johnson improved four shots by posting an even-par 70.
The Tigers also counted a pair of 71s from Jacob Solomon, who improved two strokes, and from Will Long, who dropped seven strokes from his Friday total.
Auburn did not have to count a 74 from Ben Schlottman, who improved two strokes from his Friday score.
“If someone had told me this morning that we would have shot one-over, I would have been happy,” Coach Nick Clinard said. “We had it going there. We have a lot of firepower with these five guys. We had it to nine-under on the easier side, but we made some bad swings.
“On 14 we had two guys go in the water, and we made a double and a bogey with sand wedges and wedges in our hand from the middle of the fairway which is not acceptable," he the coach said. "We are right there. I think we are in good shape, play well tomorrow and see what happens.”
Vanderbilt is the leader at three-over-par 563, which is two shots ahead of Southern Cal and dozen ahead of the Tigers, who are tied with Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisville at 575.
On the front nine Gilchrest birdied four of the first six holes to get to four-under-par, Solomon posted three straight birdies on No. 2-5 while Johnson and Long both turned at one-under. Johnson put together three straight birdies starting on No. 8 while Long eagled the par-5 fourth hole and birdied the eighth.
“I think it just shows that we can play this golf course,” Clinard said of the team's day two score. “It is just our typical first rounds that have killed us, but our second and final rounds have been fantastic. I expect us to come ready to play tomorrow.”