SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – No. 13 Auburn men’s golf kicked off the 2022-23 season with a 45-under victory on Sunday at The Mirabel Club’s Maui Jim Intercollegiate.
“We are beyond proud of all seven of these guys,” Tigers head coach Nick Clinard said. “This win did not come easy. It was hard-fought against an extremely talented field of schools. The unity and connectivity on our team are phenomenal, and that was such a major factor in our success this week. I’m excited to keep building and see just how dangerous this group can be.”
Hardware is not the only thing the Tigers leave Scottsdale with as three team program records fell en route to capturing the title. Auburn’s first round 22-under broke the previous record (-19) from the 2008 John Burns Intercollegiate. Through 36 holes, the group then smashed the next team record, posting a 34-under mark to outdo the 2018 All-American Invitational squad (-31) before ultimately setting a new 54-hole benchmark after round three, once again besting the 2008 John Burns scores (-44) with a 45-under.
The Tigers held the team lead after the first and second rounds, but saw it slip away to No. 5 Arizona State after the front nine of Sunday’s finale. Three shots out of first, Auburn rallied on the back half to mount a major comeback and seal the victory. The surge was led by junior J.M. Butler and sophomore Evan Vo who combined for nine birdies on ten total holes.
In astonishing fashion, Butler made birdie on each of his final five holes and on seven of the back nine. His round three 64 (-6) was just a single stroke off his career low set a year ago at the same event.
“I am really proud of the way we all played this week,” Butler said. “We have a very deep team that is going to be in the conversation come May. I played solid golf this week but couldn’t get anything to drop. On the back nine today, they started to finally fall. I knew I was capable and just wanted to help the team as much as I could. The coaching staff did a phenomenal job this week keeping us in the right mindset.”
For Vo, it was a trio of birdies on 16, 17, and 18 that solidified his spot as the team’s top finisher of the week. At 197 (-13), Vo carded the second top-five finish of his career as well as a new personal low. The Austin, Texas native led the field of 90 competitors in par 4 scoring, posting a 9-under mark for said holes.
“I played well this week, started to find a groove with my putting and kept giving myself plenty of looks for birdies,” Vo said. “As a team, we fed off each other and had a lot of fun making a bunch of birdies. We knew how good we were coming into this event, and this just adds to our confidence.”
Birdies were certainly a friend to the Tigers as the team made 75 over the course of its 54 holes, the best mark of any school in the tournament.
Another tournament-best came in the first round via junior Ryan Eshleman. Eshleman carded a jaw-dropping 10-under 60 to post the low round of the entire event and set the new Auburn golf record for 18-hole score. The previous record of 9-under was jointly held by Kyle Kopsick and Trace Crowe.
Eshleman carded a 69 and 70 on Saturday and Sunday to finish in a tie for eighth and earn the first top-10 placement of his career. The Birmingham, Alabama product finished second in the overall birdie counter with 20 made in the outing.
Junior Carson Bacha and senior Alex Vogelsong rounded out the Auburn contingent, wrapping up at 9-under and 3-under respectively. Bacha recorded a new career low by a whopping 13 strokes while Vogelsong led the field in pars made with 42.
Caleb Surratt of Tennessee earned Maui Jim’s individual crown with a final score of 192 (-18).
Up next, the Tigers will tackle the SEC Fall Preview Sept. 25-27 in Birmingham at Old Overton Golf Club.
|T3||Evan Vo||65 (-5)||67 (-3)||65 (-5)||197 (-13)|
|T8||Ryan Eshleman||60 (-10)||69 (-1)||70 (E)||199 (-11)|
|T11||Carson Bacha||64 (-6)||67 (-3)||70 (E)||201 (-9)|
|T21||J.M. Butler||72 (+2)||68 (-2)||64 (-6)||204 (-6)|
|T31||Alex Vogelsong||69 (-1)||66 (-4)||72 (+2)||207 (-3)|
|1||TEAM||258 (-22)||268 (-12)||269 (-11)||795 (-45)|
1. No. 13 Auburn 795 (-45)
2. No. 5 Arizona State 800 (-40)
3. No. 19 Florida State 805 (-35)
4. No. 10 Georgia Tech 806 (-34)
5. No. 11 Washington 809 (-31)
6. No. 22 Tennessee 812 (-28)
7. RV Oregon 815 (-25)
8. San Diego State 816 (-24)
9. No. 25 Arizona 819 (-21)
10. No. 16 Wake Forest 821 (-19)
11. Louisville 831 (-9)
12. New Mexico 833 (-7)
13. No. 24 Clemson 833 (-7)
14. ETSU 835 (-5)
15. Georgia State 841 (+1)
16. UNLV 845 (+5)
17. UCLA 848 (+8)
18. NC State 855 (+15)