PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif.-The No. 4 Auburn men’s golf team shot a third round 293 to finish tied for 15th at 28-over after the third round of the NCAA Championship at historic Riviera Country Club on Thursday and failed to advance to the eight-team match play portion. All-American Blayne Barber set both Auburn’s single-season and career stroke average records.
Blayne Barber finished seventh individually in the NCAA Championship/Todd Van Emst photo
Barber and Dominic Bozzelli were a combined 2-over par for the three rounds while the Tigers’ other two counters each day were a combined 26-over.
“We got off to a good start in the first round, but the last two days we just didn’t play well,” said Clinard. “We didn’t get a lot of production from our three, four and five guys. Blayne and Dominic played great as expected, and the other guys just didn’t have their A-game this week.”
Barber tied for seventh overall with an even par 213, including a final round 1-under 70. Bozzelli tied for 13th with a 2-over 215, closing with an even par 71.
“We still had a great week,” said Barber. “Myself, I didn’t leave anything out there today. I tried to get everything that I could out of my round, and I know the other guys did the same. All in all, it was still a good week. We kind of struggled yesterday, but it was a really good experience.”
Barber broke Auburn’s 36-year-old single-season stroke average record with a 70.75 average, eclipsing Buddy Gardner’s 70.90 mark in 1976. The Lake City, Fla., native, nearly broke it last season with a 70.91 average. Barber also set the Tigers’ career stroke average record with 70.91 in his two seasons, blowing away the previous mark of 72.38 by Lee Williams from 2000-05.
“Blayne is just very disciplined and is a fine young man,” Clinard said. “He works hard and has a great attitude. He has better technique than most people, and he is going to be a great professional at the next level.”
Auburn had two players in the top 13 individually at the NCAA Championship while All-SEC Will McCurdy tied for 99th with a 76-226, All-SEC Niclas Carlsson tied for 123th with a 77-230 and Freshman All-SEC Michael Johnson tied for 130th at 76-231.
The top eight teams that advance to match play to decide the National Champion starting Friday include No. 2 Alabama (287-859), No. 5 UCLA (285-861), No. 1 Texas (284-869), No. 3 California (287-871), No.13 San Diego State (284-871), No. 15 Washington (290-872), No. 6 Oregon (288-873) and No. 17 Kent State (291-875).
No. 23 Florida State finished tied for eighth but lost the tiebreaker to miss the cut with a 295-875 followed by Liberty (293-876), Oklahoma (296-877), No. 13 North Florida (297-878), No. 19 Florida (294-878), No. 12 Texas A&M (285-879) No. 7 Southern California (296-880), No. 24 Georgia (288-881), Chattanooga (290-884), No. 9 Stanford (290-885) and No. 22 UCF (297-885) to round out the top 20.
No. 16 Virginia (290-888) and No. 25 Iowa (299-888) tied for 22nd ahead of Virginia Tech (289-890), Lamar (290-892), East Carolina (297-895), TCU (299-897), Memphis (300-901), UAB (302-902) and Tulsa (305-918).
A successful Auburn season ended on a low note. The Tigers won three tournaments including the Carpet Capital Collegiate, Gator Invitational and Hootie at Bulls Bay while going an incredible 8-under par in the final four holes of the NCAA Greensboro Regional to jump from seventh to finish third and advance to the NCAA Championship.
Bozzelli became the first Auburn golfer to win back-to-back tournaments in the U.S. Collegiate and the Gator Invitational while Carlsson won the Hootie at Bulls Bay. The Tigers will likely have two players earn All-America honors this year while five were both All-SEC and All-Southeast Region selections.
“It is probably the best year that Auburn golf has ever had,” said Clinard. “In having three wins and only finishing one tournament outside of the top three before this week out of 12 tournaments is pretty special. We had a lot of individual champions, too, and we had five guys make All-SEC and All-Southeast Regional and will probably have two All-Americans as well.”
Illinois’ Thomas Pieters was the NCAA Champion individually at 5-under 208, three shots ahead of TCU’s Julien Brun (67-211) and Florida’s Tyler McCumber (72-211).