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    SEC Golf Today: May 31

    Alabama Men’s Golf No. 1 Seed for NCAA Match Play
     
    PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – The Alabama men’s golf team qualified for the match play portion of the NCAA Championships on Thursday with a 3-over-par round of 285 for a 7-over-par total of 859 to finish on top of the stroke-play portion of the 2012 NCAA Championships at the Riviera Country Club.
     
    The Crimson Tide beat UCLA (+9, 861) by two strokes after the Bruins shot 1-over 285 on Thursday. Alabama will face the eighth seed in match play, which begins at 12 p.m. (CDT) on Friday.
     
    Sophomore Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide individually with a tie for fourth at 1-under-par 212. He shot even-par 71 in the third round. Freshman Justin Thomas shot 2-over-par 73 on Thursday to finish tied for seventh at even-par 213.
     
    Senior Hunter Hamrick played his final stroke play round at Alabama in 1-under-par 70 to pace UA in the final round. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes to post a tie for 22nd at 3-over-par 216. Bobby Wyatt shot 2-over 73 Thursday while Scott Strohmeyer carded a 75.



    McCumber ties for Second as Gators Wrap-up Season with Tie for 12th at NCAA Championship

    Pacific Palisades, Calif. - The University of Florida men's golf team shot a final round 294 (+10) to finish their tournament at 26-over, 878, good for a tie for 12th overall. For the tournament, the Gators were led by junior Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) who finished in a tie for second place overall after finishing his tournament in two-under, 211.

    "We're obviously disappointed that we didn't make the match play but I'm proud of our guys and thought they did a great job of battling all week," said head coach Buddy Alexander. "Hopefully we can learn from this and gain some valuable experience for down the road."

    McCumber, who finished three strokes behind Thomas Pieters of Illinois, capped off his impressive run at the NCAAs with a final round 73. After dropping a shot on the 12th, McCumber made back-to-back birdies at the par-4 13th and par-3 14th to get to one-under. A bogey at 15 brought McCumber back to even for the round. After closing his opening nine with a trio of pars, McCumber made a birdie on the par-5 first to get back into the red. Unfortunately for the junior, he bogeyed the second and fifth. McCumber was able to get a shot back by making birdie at the par-3 sixth but while playing aggressively to catch Pieters and try to get UF into the top-8 he dropped a shot at eight and closed his round at one-over, 72. McCumber finished his solid junior season with four top-5 finishes and played his best during the team's biggest events with a tie for third at SECs and a tie for second at NCAAs.

    "I can't say enough about how Tyler played this week," Alexander said. "He just played some terrific golf all week and to finish tied for second at NCAAs is a big deal."

    Senior Michael Furci (Sayville, N.Y.) rounded out his collegiate career with a final round 73 (+2). Furci got off to a hot start with birdies on the par-4 10th and the par-4 12th. A bogey at the 16th saw Furci turn in one-under, 35. Unfortunately, Furci could not keep up to strong play and came in with four bogeys against a lone birdie to finish his NCAA Championship at nine-over.

    "It always stings when you see a guy like Michael play his last round," Alexander explained. "He's a great kid and he played well for us all week."

    After a difficult second round, freshman J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, Fla.) was able to bounce back nicely with a two-over 73. On the day, Tomlinson tied for the team lead with four birdies but gave back shots with four bogeys and a double.

    Junior T.J. Vogel (Cooper City, Fla.) saw a successful debut season in the Orange and Blue come to a disappointing close with a final round 76. On the day, Vogel made three birdies countered by six bogeys and a double to close his NCAA Championship at nine-over, 222.  Despite the poor finish at NCAAs, Vogel had an impressive season for the Gators recording nine top-10 finishes, including a pair of victories.

    Freshman Eric Banks (Truro, Canada) rounded out the Gators lineup with a final round 78.

    The Gators put together an impressive 2011-12 season which included three tournament victories and seven top-3 finishes. The Gators will return a strong lineup in 2012-13 with their entire roster expected to return with the exception of seniors Furci and Zach Lee (Ponte Vedra, Fla.).



    No. 4 Auburn Men's Golf Finishes Tied for 15th After NCAA Championship Third Round

    PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The fourth-ranked Auburn men’s golf team shot a third round 293 to finish tied for 15th at 28-over after the third round of the NCAA Championship at historic Riviera Country Club on Thursday and failed to advance to the eight-team match play portion. All-American Blayne Barber set both Auburn’s single-season and career stroke average records.

    Barber and Dominic Bozzelli were a combined 2-over par for the three rounds while the Tigers’ other two counters each day were a combined 26-over.

    “We got off to a good start in the first round, but the last two days we just didn’t play well,” said Clinard. “We didn’t get a lot of production from our three, four and five guys. Blayne and Dominic played great as expected, and the other guys just didn’t have their A-game this week.”

    Barber tied for seventh overall with an even par 213, including a final round 1-under 70. Bozzelli tied for 13th with a 2-over 215, closing with an even par 71.

    “We still had a great week,” said Barber. “Myself, I didn’t leave anything out there today. I tried to get everything that I could out of my round, and I know the other guys did the same. All in all, it was still a good week. We kind of struggled yesterday, but it was a really good experience.”

    Barber broke Auburn’s 36-year-old single-season stroke average record with a 70.75 average, eclipsing Buddy Gardner’s 70.90 mark in 1976. The Lake City, Fla., native, nearly broke it last season with a 70.91 average. Barber also set the Tigers’ career stroke average record with 70.91 in his two seasons, blowing away the previous mark of 72.38 by Lee Williams from 2000-05.

    “Blayne is just very disciplined and is a fine young man,” Clinard said. “He works hard and has a great attitude. He has better technique than most people, and he is going to be a great professional at the next level.”

    Auburn had two players in the top 13 individually at the NCAA Championship while All-SEC Will McCurdy tied for 99th with a 76-226, All-SEC Niclas Carlsson tied for 123th with a 77-230 and Freshman All-SEC Michael Johnson tied for 130th at 76-231.

    The top eight teams that advance to match play to decide the National Champion starting Friday include No. 2 Alabama (287-859), No. 5 UCLA (285-861), No. 1 Texas (284-869), No. 3 California (287-871), No.13 San Diego State (284-871), No. 15 Washington (290-872), No. 6 Oregon (288-873) and No. 17 Kent State (291-875).

    No. 23 Florida State finished tied for eighth but lost the tiebreaker to miss the cut with a 295-875 followed by Liberty (293-876), Oklahoma (296-877), No. 13 North Florida (297-878), No. 19 Florida (294-878), No. 12 Texas A&M (285-879) No. 7 Southern California (296-880), No. 24 Georgia (288-881), Chattanooga (290-884), No. 9 Stanford (290-885) and No. 22 UCF (297-885) to round out the top 20.

    No. 16 Virginia (290-888) and No. 25 Iowa (299-888) tied for 22nd ahead of Virginia Tech (289-890), Lamar (290-892), East Carolina (297-895), TCU (299-897), Memphis (300-901), UAB (302-902) and Tulsa (305-918).

    This marks one of Auburn’s most storied seasons as the Tigers won three tournaments including the Carpet Capital Collegiate, Gator Invitational and Hootie at Bulls Bay while going an incredible 8-under par in the final four holes of the NCAA Greensboro Regional to jump from seventh to finish third and advance to the NCAA Championship.

    Bozzelli became the first Auburn golfer to win back-to-back tournaments in the U.S. Collegiate and the Gator Invitational while Carlsson won the Hootie at Bulls Bay. The Tigers will likely have two players earn All-America honors this year while five were both All-SEC and All-Southeast Region selections.

    “It is probably the best year that Auburn golf has ever had,” said Clinard. “In having three wins and only finishing one tournament outside of the top three before this week out of 12 tournaments is pretty special. We had a lot of individual champions, too, and we had five guys make All-SEC and All-Southeast Regional and will probably have two All-Americans as well.”

    Illinois’ Thomas Pieters was the NCAA Champion individually at 5-under 208, three shots ahead of TCU’s Julien Brun (67-211) and Florida’s Tyler McCumber (72-211).



    Georgia Golfers Finish 17th At NCAA Championships

    PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - The Georgia men’s golf team saved its best for last on Thursday at the NCAA Championships.

    The Bulldogs carded a 4-over-par 288 at The Riviera Club, seven shots better than their first round and 10 strokes better than their second round. Thursday’s loop gave Georgia a three-day total of 29-over 881.

    The Bulldogs, however, fell short of their goal of a top-8 finish to advance to match play. Georgia wound up in 17th place, six shots behind eighth. The teams advancing to match play starting on Friday were Alabama (859), UCLA (861), Texas (869), California (871), San Diego State (871), Washington (872) and Oregon (873). Kent State and Florida State shared the eighth spot at 875 and will have a playoff on Thursday to determine which team moves on.

    “We’re disappointed about not being able to advance, but we definitely closed on a high note,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “We avoided some of the big pitfalls today. We played a little looser today and down the stretch we finished better, which is something we wanted them to do.”

    Sophomore Keith Mitchell paced the Bulldogs on Thursday, firing a 2-under 69. Sophomore Brian Carter added a 1-over 72, junior T.J. Mitchell had a 2-over 73, freshman Nicholas Reach signed for a 3-over 74 and sophomore Joey Garber posted a 4-over 75.

    Keith Mitchell wound up as the top Bulldog in the field, coming in ninth at 1-over 214. T.J. Mitchell finished at 5-over 218, followed by Reach at 12-over 225, Carter at 13-over 226 and Garber at 14-over 227. Illinois’ Thomas Pieters claimed NCAA medalist honors as he finished at 5-under 208.

    And while the 2012 season may be over, the Bulldogs quickly turned their attention to the 2013 campaign.

    “Being here was a great accomplishment for our team,” Carter said. “It’s a tremendous help not losing anybody. Next year, the NCAAs are in Atlanta, and if we keep growing up, we might have a really good shot at it.”

    “Before the round, we told the guys we wanted them to learn for the future,” Haack said. “We wanted to stress what it takes to have a complete round and how valuable every shot is for all three rounds. As they look back, they’ll find a couple of shots they’ll wish they had saved. If they learn that, it will be helpful down the road.”

    Added Keith Mitchell, “If we stick to our game plan next year and play strong through the fall and spring, I think we’ll be fine.”