Close this search box.
AGN logo
April 29, 2024

Even with SEC title in hand, Auburn wants more

By Auburn Sports Information
Auburn Men's Golf Team

Tigers now head to NCAA regional

SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – In a match between college golf’s top teams, No. 1 Auburn grabbed an early lead and never let up, defeating No. 2 Vanderbilt 3-2 to win the 2024 SEC Championship Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club.

“Wow, what a week,” said Auburn coach Nick Clinard. “Match play is so difficult, especially when you’re playing teams that have some of the best players in the world. We got on them early and we stayed there, we hung tough. Our guys were very motivated, they got some good rest last night.”

With two matches secured, freshman Josiah Gilbert clinched the conference championship for Auburn by defeating defending NCAA medalist Gordon Sargent 4-up. The match ended on hole No. 16 when Sargent, trailing by three and needing to win out, conceded the point after missing a long par putt.

“There’s no bigger stage in the SEC. It’s a great place to show what you’ve worked for,” said Gilbert, who lost the first hole before winning the next four to seize control of the match. “I’m happy for the team. Soak it in, enjoy it, then eyes up to nationals. We’ve got a bigger picture ahead of us now.”

Fellow freshman Jackson Koivun, two days after winning individual medalist honors, continued his torrid play, defeating Vanderbilt’s Matthew Riedel 7&6 to claim Auburn’s first finals match.”I played really well today and felt like I had the momentum the whole time,” said Koivun, who won three of the first holes and needed only 12 holes to win the match.

“My putting was really good today. This is what we grind for and it’s starting to pay off. It’s a great tournament to win. I know we’ve been looking forward to it for a while. We’ve still got two more tournaments to go, so we’re setting our focus for that.”

Freshmen step up for Auburn

“How about our freshmen,” Clinard said. “How about Josiah Gilbert and how about Jackson Koivun in stroke play and match play, going 3-0. We’re not standing right here without them; I can promise you that.”

Junior Carson Bacha claimed Auburn’s second match, setting the stage for Gilbert’s clincher. In a back-and-forth leadoff match, Bacha took the lead for good on hole No. 13 and wrapped up the match with a short par putt on 18 to win 1-up.

“It was about staying patient, staying in the moment and waiting for your opportunities to come up” Bacha said. “A nice two-putt for the win. Really happy to get the job done and help the guys out.

“I’m so proud of the guys. This is what we’ve been working for all year. We’re so happy to come out on top of this match. Everybody brought it all week and we’re so fortunate to be in this position.”

The SEC title is Auburn’s fifth in program history and first since Wells Padgett’s 20-foot walk-off birdie putt on the same course in 2018. Brendan Valdes and J.M. Butler also competed for the Tigers against the Commodores after each earned a victory on Saturday to help advance Auburn in the tournament.

The top-ranked Tigers will seek to secure more postseason trophies in NCAA regionals May 13-15 and ultimately the NCAA Championship May 24-29 in at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa  in Carlsbad, California.

“They’ve had a great year,” Clinard said. “We’ve got a lot to play for. The job’s not finished.

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email

Featured image courtesy of Auburn Athletics

Lexi golf ball add 300x250