Tigers Sent West For NCAA Men's Golf Regional

Auburn, Ala.--The SEC runnerup Auburn men's golf team will travel to California to play in the NCAA West Regional.

Coach Mike Griffin's Tigers, who are ranked sixth nationally this week, are the third seed in the 27-team region tournament, which will be played on the Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto from May 19-21. Nevada-Las Vegas is the region's top seed followed by New Mexico.

Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona, South Carolina of the SEC, Southern California and Washington make up the rest of the top 10 seeds.

Last season, Auburn finished sixth in the NCAA East Region at Yale University. The East is the only region where the Tigers have previously been sent.

Ten SEC teams will compete in the three regions, including LSU, the 11th seed in the West. Only Ole Miss and Mississippi State failed to make the field and they each have a player who qualified as an individual.

In the East Regional, which features the Southeastern Conference as the host at the Golf Club of Tennessee in Nashville, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Vanderbilt are in the field. Georgia is the top seed in the regional and Florida is third.

In the Central Regional at Notre Dame, SEC champ Kentucky is the fourth seed and is joined there by Arkansas of the SEC.

Lee Williams (left) accepts congratulates from Coach Mike Griffin after the Tigers won the 2005 Billy Hitchcock Invitational.

In addition to Auburn, two other in-state teams, Samford (25th seed) and South Alabama (23rd seed), were sent west for the regional. The top 10 teams advance to the NCAA Championship scheduled for June 1-4 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. Last year the Tigers finished 21st at the NCAA Championship after a strong start that included a fourth place showing after round one.

Auburn coach Mike Griffin says he is excited about Auburn's sixth straight NCAA regional invitation. "There is a part of me that even though I don't like the trip to the West Coast and would like to take that drive up the interstate to Nashville (Southeast regional site), I am liking that our kids have a chance to play that golf course. It's a great golf course, and you have to hit the ball pretty straight, and you have to hit it long. We have the straight, but not the long. It is a really beautiful golf course. It is a grand old golf course. It is a splendid test."

Griffin will have an experienced team to take to California, led by All-SEC senior Lee Williams, who has a 71.78 strokes per round average, second best in the conference.

AU's other top scorers are junior Stuart Moore (72.73), senior Tyler McKeever (72.89) and seniors Matthew Myers and Will Claxton, who each average 73.25) shots per round. Freshman Patton Kizzire, who has been out of the lineup with mono, has a 72.22 average.

"We don't get to see the West Coast folks too much," said Griffin, whose Tigers are ranked sixth this week in the Golfweek Top 25. "UNLV and New Mexico are two of the top golf teams in the country. I feel like there are plenty of good teams at the top. Arizona State and UCLA are very good. Arizona and BYU are back playing well. We know South Carolina is a good team and Southern Cal has been a strong team on the West Coast and Washington just won the Pac-10.

A lot of East teams were shipped," Griffin adds. "Hopefully, we can live up to expectations. You are going to have to beat good teams to make it. I am pleased, and we will go from there."

Other teams in the West Regional include Pepperdine, San Diego State, UC-Riverside, St. Mary's (California), Stanford, Texas-Arlington (Southland), Colorado State, Cal Poly, Fresno State, Oregon, Denver, South Alabama, Illinois State, Samford, Princeton and Central Connecticut State.

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