Championship to be held May 26-31 in Scottsdale, Arizona
The Alabama and Auburn men’s golf teams are headed to the NCAA Men’s National Championship in Arizona.
Both teams qualified this week with impressive showings, each winning regional championships.
Alabama traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, to win its first regional championship since 2014, while Auburn stayed home to capture its first regional title under coach Nick Clinard.
The national championship tournament is hosted by Arizona State University in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Grayhawk Golf Club from May 26-31.
Alabama shot 28-under 836 to clip host Oklahoma by three shots with all five Crimson Tide golfers finishing in the top 28.
Colorado (-23) finished third with No. 5 Texas Tech (-22) and Duke (-21) rounding out the top five to advance from the Norman regional to the championship.
The last time an Alabama men’s golf team won an NCAA Regional came in 2014 when the Tide captured the Auburn Regional.
“Our guys really responded to that challenge all week,” Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. “We got off to a great start, which is something we talked about and was needed. I thought we hit a little hiccup midway through, but we overcame it and finished strong, especially on the closing holes.”
Nick Dunlap led three Crimson Tide golfers who finished inside the top 15 with a 9-under par 207 (66-71-70) to place in fourth overall. Canon Claycomb joined Dunlap inside the top 10, tying for ninth overall at 7-under 209. Jonathan Griz (210), JP Cave and Thomas Ponder tied for 28th at 2-under par 214.
“Having all five guys contribute I think is a big reason why won,” Seawell said. “We could feel that energy all week. The loss to Vanderbilt (SEC Tournament Match Play quarterfinals) hurt and I wondered how our guys would respond. I tell them all the time that the road to greatness comes through getting hurt and our guys really responded. I really feel the success this week came from confidence we gained after losing that match. We were determined not to feel like that again.”
Auburn to make 27th NCAA championship appearance
Playing on their home course suited the Tigers well as they pulled out a one-shot win over top-ranked Vanderbilt to earn their berth in the upcoming championship.
The Tigers shot 1-under 863 to edge out No. 1 Vanderbilt by a single shot. The win ties the school record as the only other team to record five victories in a year came during the 1996-97 season.
“We haven’t won a regional since I’ve been here, so I’m really proud of the guys for grinding it out and getting this one done,”Clinard said. “They all played great. It’s tough out there, but they were resilient. They’re such a hardworking group, so this is well-earned. We’re headed to the national championship and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Four of the Tigers’ five players finished the week inside the top 15, highlighted by sophomore Brendan Valdes in sixth.
Senior Alex Vogelsong shot a bogey-free 70 in the final round to help the Tigers fend off Vanderbilt.
“I stayed pretty patient all day and hit a lot of good shots,” Vogelsong said. “My putts just weren’t falling in, but then I made two coming in late that were icing on the cake for a good round. It was a great week for all of us though. I’m proud of this team and how we played.”
Advancing from the Auburn Regional are No. 13 Auburn, No. 1 Vanderbilt, Chattanooga, No. 25 Ohio State and No. 24 Colorado State. As the low-scoring individual of a non-advancing team, Drew Salyers of Indiana secured the individual ticket.
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Photos courtesy of Alabama and Auburn Athletics