One of the most talented rosters in Auburn golf history will try to make a run at the program’s first national championship after an impressive showing at the 2018 event.
Beginning on Friday at The Blessing course in Fayetteville, Ark., Coach Nick Clinard’s Tigers will try to top last year’s impressive showing when they reached the semi-finals at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater. They lost that match 3-2 to a loaded Oklahoma State team that had the advantage of playing on its home course on the way to winning the 2018 national championship.
Brandon Mancheno, the runnerup last year for the individual national championship, is back for another run at that title. The sophomore is the type of player a coach likes to put in the lineup when facing a talented field like the one assembled for the nationals. When he is on Mancheno can play the game at a very high level.
Mancheno has been part of a group that includes the 2019 Southeastern Conference individual champion, junior Jovan Rebula, and the runnerup in that tournament, junior Graysen Huff.
Rebula, the 2018 British Amateur champion, is a semi-finalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award as the college golfer of the year. He has been strong throughout the schedule and carries an average of 70.79 strokes per 18 holes. That is the fourth best single-season average in Auburn history and especially impressive considering the Tigers have played on multiple challenging courses throughout the schedule.
Throw in seniors Jacob Solomon and Trace Crowe, who have also had plenty of success playing for the Tigers, and Coach Clinard has a lineup that is capable of going head to head against any team they might face.
Crowe and Solomon are second team All-SEC picks this year while Rebula was a first team selection. Like Rebula, both the seniors are playing better than par golf with Crowe averaging 71.61 shots per round and Solomon close behind at 71.76.
Last year the Tigers defeated defending national champion Oklahoma in the match play quarter-finals at the NCAA Championships. To be one of the teams that gets a chance to compete for the 2019 national title the Tigers need to survive the cuts from 30 to 15 teams after 54 holes and from 15 to eight teams after 18 more holes.
In their last two tournaments, the NCAA Louisville Regional and the SEC Championships, the Tigers showed signs they are playing some of their best golf of the season, which is reason to believe they have chance for a big finish to what has been a strong season.
The schedule is finished for the Auburn softball team, which bounced back from a late regular season slump to play solidly in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Regional in Tucson. However, the combination of a talented Arizona team playing at home and injuries to pitchers Makayla Martin and Ashlee Swindle along with shortstop Taylon Snowed cramped this team’s style.
Coach Mickey Dean’s 2019 team went into the season short of quality depth and that became a limiting factor for a group that could have been a national seed playing at home with Martin in the pitching rotation.
Health issues with the pitchers continue to be a problem for the Auburn baseball team. Despite that Coach Butch Thompson’s Tigers have probably done enough to make the NCAA Tournament for a third straight year, there is a high probability they will be playing on the road because they haven’t done enough to be a national seed.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter