TICKET PUNCHED: No. 1 Auburn wins Baton Rouge Regional to advance to 2024 NCAA Championship


BATON ROUGE, La. – Auburn men's golf is headed to the 2024 NCAA Championship following a sixth consecutive tournament title for the nation's No. 1 team. The Tigers delivered an electric, 20-under final round Wednesday at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to headline the tournament's five squads moving forward.
The 30 advancing teams from six regional sites will converge on Carlsbad, California for a shot at a national title May 24-29. The Omni La Costa Champions Course hosts this year's event.
"So incredibly proud of the hunger and competitive energy from this group," Tigers head coach Nick Clinard said. "Their goal from the first tee shot was to win it. They found a way to stay patient when putts weren't falling or they didn't have their best stuff, and when it mattered, they delivered. We're excited to head to California and end a great season competing for a national championship."
For the week, the Tigers shot 843 (-21), winning the regional by eight strokes. It is the first time in program history with regional victories in back-to-back seasons.
Auburn's top individual of the tournament was junior Brendan Valdes. He finished tied for second with a total score of 6-under 210. His surge up the leaderboard was assisted by a clutch, 6-under 66 in the final round. He made one bogey on the day, 14, and birdied seven times on holes 2, 6, 7, 11, 13, 15 and 17.
"It builds so much confidence for us knowing that we needed a great round today to secure a win and that's exactly what we got," Valdes said. "I think our game is in a really good place right now, and I'm excited to take that into nationals. We're going to be ready to do whatever it takes."
Texas Tech's Baard Skogen edged Valdes out by two shots to claim medalist honors at 8-under.
Auburn's deadly freshman duo, Jackson Koivun and Josiah Gilbert, both ended the tournament at 5-under, good for fifth place finishes. Koivun made 14 pars and 4 birdies Wednesday for the clean 68 (-4). With 164 birdies on the year, he now stands tied with Michael Johnson's 2015-16 single-season program record.
Gilbert cruised to his third top five finish of the season with a final round 67 (-5). He played his first 11 holes at six-under before making a couple of bogeys on a tough back nine, however, he picked up one more birdie on 17 to punctuate the day.
"Really happy to be a part of this group of guys that push each other every day," Gilbert said. "It means a lot to us to be able to perform today and finish it off. So proud of this team and what we've done this season, but we've got a few days to regroup before we head west and go for one more big run in California."
Senior J.M. Butler saved his best stuff for last as he delivered a 5-under 67 Wednesday to surpass Jovan Rebula (2016-21) and set the new school record with 46 career rounds carded in the 60s. Butler placed 15th. Junior Carson Bacha shot 77 (+5) in the third round. He finished the week at 6-over.
Also advancing out of Baton Rouge alongside the Tigers are No. 12 Virginia, No. 14 Texas Tech, Ohio State and LSU. Ethan Evans of Duke claimed the individual ticket.