May 26, 2012
AUBURN – The No. 4 Auburn men’s golf team heads to Pacific Palisades, Calif., for the 2012 NCAA Championship at the historic Riviera Country Club Tuesday through Sunday. The Tigers will be making their first appearance since 2008 after making a memorable comeback at the NCAA Greensboro Regional.
Auburn had an incredible final four holes as it went 8-under par over that span to jump from seventh to finish third. Blayne Barber closed out his final four holes with a birdie, hole-in-one, par and birdie. Barber used a 4-iron from 227 yards on the par-3 16th to record his fourth overall ace, but his first in a tournament.
“Coming down the stretch, I can’t say enough about what the guys did,” head coach Nick Clinard said. “They kind of really hung tough and really played like the way I thought they would play the whole week to be quite honest, but it was quite a finish, quite a thing to watch basically from a spectator’s standpoint.”
The Championship will begin with a 30-team, 54-hole tournament that will narrowed to eight teams. After the conclusion of the 54-holes, the NCAA Individual Champion will be announced and the eight remaining teams will begin a seeded match play tournament to determine the overall winner.
At the Championship, the Tigers will be facing 18 of the nation’s top-25 teams, including nine of the top-10. Auburn has faced 22 of the other 29 teams in the NCAA Championship and holds a record of 35-11-2 against those teams.
“It’s a great field as you can expect, and it is a great venue,” Clinard continued. “There’s a lot of history at Riviera Country Club, and we are looking forward to going out there. We’ve played well all year though. I think we have been very consistent. We are a very deep team, we’re a very talented team and we look forward to getting out there and competing against the best programs in the country and see how we stack up.”
All-American junior Blayne Barber will be in the top spot for the Tigers after finishing in fourth place at the Greensboro Regional, his sixth top-5 finish of the year. With his scoring average of 70.73, Barber is set to break the 36-year old Auburn school record of 70.90 which was set by Buddy Gardner in 1976. Barber is also on pace to break school’s career scoring average of 72.38, which was set by Lee Williams (2000-05).
Coming of a tie for fifth finish at the Greensboro Regional, All-SEC junior Dominic Bozzelli will be in the No. 2 position. Bozzelli began the Regional with a 4-over 76, but rebounded nicely with 2-under 70s in the second and third round to finish even-par. The Pittsford, N.Y., native is second on the team in scoring average with 72.03.
All-SEC sophomore Niclas Carlsson will take the third position for the Tigers after placing tied for 16th at the Greensboro Regional. The All-SEC second team member posted his seventh top-20 after carding a 5-over 221 at the Grandover Resort East Course.
All-SEC senior Will McCurdy is fourth in the Auburn lineup and has finished in the top-20 five times this season. The Fort Payne, Ala., native is third on the team in scoring at 72.37 and rounds counted with 24. McCurdy was also named to the All-SEC second team this season.
All-SEC freshman Michael Johnson rounds out the Tigers’ lineup after finishing the season with five top-20 finishes. For his efforts this season, the Birmingham native was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Johnson’s best finish of the season came at the U.S. Collegiate where he finished tied for third.
Action will begin on Monday as the Tigers tee off at 1 p.m. CT for the practice round. Auburn will tee off on Tuesday at 2:40 p.m. CT with UCLA and Southern California for the first round.
Live scoring for the NCAA Championship can be found at www.golfstat.com. For more information on Auburn golf, follow us on Twitter @AUMensGolf.