Team winner: Alabama (11-under 853)
Individual winner: Marco Iten, Austin Peay State (8-under 208)
Also moving on: Teams – 2. Kennesaw State (875), 3. Auburn (878), 4. Virginia Tech (882), 5. Texas (884)
Individual advancing: Marco Iten, Austin Peay State (8-under 208)
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Alabama collected its eighth victory of the season Saturday by winning the Auburn (Ala.) Regional by 22 shots.
The Crimson Tide, No. 1 in the Golfweek rankings, shot 6-under 282 – the low team score of the tournament – at the Auburn University Club during the final round to win its third consecutive regional title. The team finished at 11-under 853.
“We didn’t take this for granted,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “We came in here and the guys prepared well and they were focused. We took care of what we had to do.”
All five players finished inside the top 30. Senior Cory Whitsett finished as the runner-up, four shots back of Austin Peay State’s Marco Iten. Tom Lovelady and Trey Mullinax also finished inside the top 10, T-3 and T-7, respectively.
The defending national champions head to Kansas on Tuesday for a few practice rounds before the NCAA Championship starts Friday.
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It was a nail bitter for a little while in the middle of the round, but Auburn advanced to the NCAA Championship.
Auburn freshman Will Long and senior Niclas Carlsson helped seal the deal for the Tigers.
Long made an albatross on the par-5 16th after hitting a 3-wood in from 277 yards. It hit the front of the green and rolled about 15 feet until it found the bottom of the cup.
“I just went blank,” Long said.
“It was the perfect 3-wood,” said Auburn assistant coach Evan Osteen. “He just dropped his club and stuck his arms up and I came running over and picked him up and gave him a hug.”
Carlsson, who was playing right behind Long, hit a 5 or 6 iron into the green said head coach Nick Clinard, and only had 12 feet left for his eagle attempt. That also went in.
“It was perfect timing,” Clinard said as he saw his team starting to slip towards the bottom of the fifth spot on the leaderboard. “We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch that we need to eliminate, but all in all, it was a good finish.”
“It’s awesome. We were wanting to win (our own regional), but we’ll definitely take it, advancing to the national championship,” Long added.
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Texas, tied for fifth heading into the final round, had to sweat it out a bit to secure the final bid into the NCAAs.
With just a few holes remaining for the Longhorns, New Mexico shot an even-par 288 at the Auburn University Club for a three-day total of 885. North Carolina-Greensboro had posted 22 over and had hopes of advancing to its first-ever NCAA Championship.
Although three of its five players bogeyed the par-4 18th, Texas, the 2012 NCAA champions, finished at 20-over 884, eliminating the Lobos and UNCG.
After Texas, No. 13 in the Golfweek rankings, posted its total, it was Louisville that got into the mix. The Cardinals got to 6 under for the day and 20 over for the tournament before the team posted three bogeys on its final hole (No. 9). It dropped them into a tie for ninth, which meant the Longhorns would advance to its eighth consecutive national championship – the second longest streak in college golf.
“There’s only one time in college golf when there’s finality,” head coach John Fields said. “If you don’t make it you’re done for the season and move on to next year.
“I was really proud of our guys. . . . They are very pleased and appreciated that we got through (to NCAAs), but we were not happy with our season. For them the enjoyment comes from being in the hunt. And you can’t get there without being in the hunt.”