ELITE EIGHT: No. 1 Auburn draws Cavaliers in match play quarterfinals

Todd Drexler - www.sesportsmedia.com

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Auburn men's golf is advancing to the Elite Eight for the second time in program history as the Tigers' 4-over fourth round Sunday was enough to secure a date with No. 3 seed Virginia in the quarterfinal matches of the 2024 NCAA Championship at the Omni La Costa Champions Course.
Auburn tees off against the Cavaliers at 9:40 a.m. CT from the 10th hole. Junior Carson Bacha leads off against Josh Duangmanee. Match No. 2 pits junior Brendan Valdes against George Duangmanee. Next, freshman Josiah Gilbert takes on Bryan Lee followed by freshman Jackson Koivun against Deven Patel. Senior J.M. Butler will anchor against Ben James.
"We still have not come close to what we're capable of," Tigers head coach Nick Clinard said. "We need our upperclassmen to step up and compete to the level our freshmen have. We're happy to be moving on. It's a new tournament moving forward, and we'll be ready."
After some a slow start on the back nine with just two birdies, Auburn dug deep and closed out the front with the momentum it needed, picking up 10 birdies to secure the No. 6 seed heading into match play with a 19-over four-round total.
Freshman Jackson Koivun continued to spearhead the Tigers' attack with another 1-under 71 day. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina native made a late run at the individual title with three birdies and four pars over his final seven holes but fell just short and finished the week in second place at 2-under 286. It is the best placement by an Auburn freshman at the tournament since Brandon Mancheno finished second in 2018.
Perhaps the most clutch performance of the round came from junior Carson Bacha, who after making the turn at 2-over, flipped the script and played his final nine holes at 3-under with zero bogeys.
"Going into my final nine holes I knew I had to make something happen," Bacha said. "I wasn't sure where any of my teammates stood, but I still felt the pressure and knew that I wanted to help us move on. For me, it was all about staying patient and playing smart golf. Thankfully, I was able to pounce on some good birdie opportunities coming in."
Rookie Josiah Gilbert was the third Tiger to play the front below par as he picked up birdies on 2, 5 and 6 to shoot 35 (-1) over his final nine holes of stroke play. Junior Brendan Valdes turned in a 77 (+5) and senior J.M. Butler shot 78 (+6). 

Golf channel will broadcast Tuesday's matches starting with the quarterfinals at 12 p.m. CT followed by the semifinals at 5 p.m. CT.