Tigers open NCAA Championship in fifth

Tim Cowie/Todd Drexler Photos

CARLSBAD, Calif. – In its first round of the 2024 NCAA Championship, No. 1 Auburn men's golf fired a 5-over 293, which was good for a share of fifth place Friday at the Omni La Costa Champions Course.
"This golf course is great, but it's hard," Auburn head coach Nick Clinard said. "It's so hard to get birdie looks because it's hard to get the proximity to hole, but you just have to be patient and really control your ball, control your trajectory and control your spin. You're exposed if you can't."
Auburn sits three shots back of the lead and six shots ahead of the top-15 cut, which will occur following Sunday's third round. For round two, Auburn goes off 1 at 8:40 a.m. CT with Vanderbilt and North Carolina once more. Teams will be reseeded and repaired ahead of round three.
Leading the lineup through the opener was the Tigers' standout freshman Jackson Koivun. He shot 71 (-1) as one of 12 players to go subpar on Friday. Koivun made 15 pars, one bogey on 17 and two birdies on 16 and 1. His birdie on 16 set the program's single season record with 165 on the year. He surpassed the previous mark of 164 set during Michael Johnson's senior season (2016).
Senior J.M. Butler and juniors Carson Bacha and Brendan Valdes contributed Auburn's final three counted scores with 74s (+2). Bacha and Valdes birdied twice during the round. Butler made four.
Freshman Josiah Gilbert made a couple of costly mistakes on a challenging back nine and shot 80 (+8) for the drop score.