SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – The No. 20 Auburn men’s golf team made the 15-team cut and is in ninth, two shots out of seventh, after the NCAA Championship third round on Sunday at the par-72, 7300-yard Rich Harvest Farms. The low eight teams after the fourth round will advance to match play to decide the national champion.
The Tigers shot a 2-over 290 and have an 8-under total, a shot behind No. 5 Baylor and No. 18 Virginia, who are tied for seventh. After getting to 7-over on the day, Auburn caught fire as it made the turn and gained five shots the remainder of the round.
“We struggled at the beginning, and we hit some loose shots, and it played pretty tough with the wind blowing out of the northwest today,” said head coach Nick Clinard. “The guys really came back. In the middle of the round, we made some birdies and got back into it and coming down the stretch. At 18, we had a birdie and an eagle. Jovan (Rebula) had two beautiful shots to 10 feet and made it.”
Jovan Rebula birdied the par-4 ninth and made two eagles in the same round for the first time ever, even more impressive on the same nine at the par-5s, No. 11 and 18. Jacob Solomon birdied four holes at Nos. 7, 8, 11 and 14.
“I had two eagles on the back nine, and it was something special,” said Rebula, who is from George, South Africa, and is the nephew of Hall of Famer Ernie Els. “It is something that I’ve never done before.
“I hit two great drives down the fairway. On 11, I hit it to 25 feet, a straight uphill putt. I had a good feeling coming up to it and felt I was going to make it, and it gave me a lot of confidence. On 18, I hit it great down the fairway and hit a softish downhill 3-wood that ended up 6 feet behind the flag. I haven’t had a back nine like this in my life before so life is full of experiences, and I experienced something new today as well.”
Rebula and Solomon are both tied for 31st at 2-under and each had slow starts before finishing strong. Rebula was 3-over after five holes and played 4-under the rest of the way for a 1-under 71. Solomon was 4-over after six holes before his four birdies allowed him to shoot a 1-over 73.
Trace Crowe is tied for 36th at 1-under after a solid 1-under 71 with birdies at Nos. 2 and 7 and making birdie at the 18th for the second straight day.
“We started off rough as a whole, but we got the back nine going, and we have a good chance going into tomorrow,” said Crowe. “I felt like I hit the ball well. I hit a lot of good putts, but they didn’t fall for me. The birdie on 18, and I had one yesterday too. It is good momentum going into the next day. Hopefully, we can play well tomorrow and get in there for match play, which is the whole purpose to have a chance at it.”
Matt Gilchrest is tied for 66th at 3-over with a 78 while making three of four birdies to make the turn at Nos. 6, 7 and 9. Ryan Benton is tied for 71st at 4-over with a 75, making birdie at the 11th.
No. 4 Vanderbilt leads by a shot at 18-under 846 after firing an 8-under 280 over No. 17 Oklahoma (284-847), No. 16 UNLV (285-847) and No. 1 Southern Calilfornia (280-847). No. 8 Illinois is in fifth at 14-under 850 with a 3-under 285 followed by No. 3 Oklahoma State (283-852) while No. 5 Baylor (287-855) and No. 18 Virginia (284-855) are tied for seventh, a shot ahead of the Tigers.
No. 20 Auburn (290-856) is in ninth ahead of No. 6 LSU (290-858), No. 14 Texas (283-859), No. 24 Florida State (286-860), No. 9 Oregon (289-865), Pepperdine (287-869) and UCF (293-871) to make the cut for the top 15 teams to continue play on Monday.
“We are in good shape,” said Clinard. “The weather is going to be good tomorrow with the wind blowing 15-25 mph. It is anybody’s ballgame. We are going to go out there and freewheel it and play great golf and have some fun.”
No. 23 Arizona State (289-872) missed the cut by a stroke in 16th followed by Alabama (293-873), Iowa State (297-875), North Carolina (295-875), No. 2 Stanford (299-879), No. 11 Kent State (299-881), No. 19 Duke (298-888), No. 22 Ole Miss (302-888), Penn State (296-891), Lipscomb (300-891), Jacksonville (302-892), New Mexico (300-892), Purdue (309-902), Kennesaw State (307-904) and No. 15 Clemson (307-905).
Texas’ Scottie Scheffler is the individual leader at 12-under with a 68 all three rounds, two shots ahead of Ole Miss' Braden Thornberry.
Auburn will tee off in Monday’s final round of stroke play at 1:10 pm CT on No. 10 with Baylor and Virginia as the Golf Channel will televise the NCAA Championship live from 4-7 pm CT.
The match play quarterfinals and semifinals both take place on Tuesday at 7 am and 1:30 pm, respectively. The NCAA Championship match is on Wednesday at 2:10 pm.
Golf Channel will also televise live on Tuesday from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm and 3:30-7 pm and Wednesday from 3-7 pm.
Auburn is one of only six teams to appear in six consecutive NCAA Championships. It is Auburn’s 22nd overall appearance. The Tigers’ best NCAA finish is a tie for seventh in 1994 in McKinney, Texas. Auburn finished eighth in 2003 in Stillwater, Okla., 10th in 1998 in Albuquerque, N.M., and 12th in 2015 in Bradenton, Fla.
Live-scoring can be followed at www.Golfstat.com.