AU senior finishes 2nd in NCAA golf

ATLANTA – Led by senior Dominic Bozzelli, Auburn’s men’s golf team finished its stay at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship on a roll, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a disappointing opening day.

Senior Domninic Bozzelli finished his Auburn career in style with second-place NCAA finish/Todd Van Emst photos

The Tigers totaled 5-under 275 on Thursday to finish at 6-over for the tournament and in 13th place. They were four shots shy of the eight-team cut for the final 36 holes, which will be match play. The finish was the best for the Tigers since they finished eighth in 2003. They were in 27th place after going 12-over par in Tuesday’s opening round.

Bozzelli finished in a tie for second at 6-under 204, three shots behind California’s Max Homa. Bozzelli, who was 4-over after the first 12 holes of the tournament, carded a bogey-free final round. The Pittsford, N.Y. native birdied No. 12 to make the turn at 1-under and birdied Nos. 3, 5 and 7 to finish the round at 4-under. Bozzelli’s finish is the highest since Lee Williams was the runner-up in 2003.

"We made a great run there,” Auburn coach Nick Clinard said. “We turned at 3-over and we finally got it going on the front side. For the whole week, we made a lot of birdies there and just didn't close at the end. The first day just set us back shooting 12-over. You have to be proud of their toughness and resilience in coming back. We are one of the best teams here but just didn't make enough putts this week.

Clinard praised Bozzelli’s performance in the final tournament of his college career.

"Dominic is a great player and what a great career he has had,” Clinard said. “I wish he wasn't leaving. He made a lot of putts. He's worked very, very hard. He has really grown as a player. He lost a year of eligibility in his transfer, but his first year at Auburn he only played in four tournaments. To be where he is today is a testament to his hard work and his desire to be great."

No. 1 California will be the top seed in match play after shooting a 16-under 824. No. 8 Georgia Tech finished second at 830, followed by No. 2 Alabama (833), No. 3 Texas (833) and Illinois (835). No. 5 New Mexico, UNLV and Arizona State round out the top-8 after advancing in the playoff.

"I was just trying to come out and shoot a good round for the team,” Bozzelli said. “Obviously, we knew we had to make a lot of birdies. I was bogey-free today and am proud of that. I am happy with a 66 today. The guys’ effort was there, and we had a pretty good run today."

Sophomore Michael Johnson tied for 38th at 1-over 211 after shooting a 69 in the final round. Johnson carded his first birdie of the day on No. 14, but fired consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 to move to 1-over. On the front-9, Johnson birdied No. 1, before back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6, but bogeyed the final hole to finish at 1-under.

Junior Niclas Carlsson tied for 69th at 4-over 214. Carlsson bogyed Nos. 11 and 14 to turn at 2-over, but reeled off three-straight birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to finish the round at 1-under.

All-SEC freshman Jake Mondy tied for 109th at 218 while All-SEC senior Michael Hebert tied for 136th at 222.

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