SEC schools lead five of six NCAA men's golf regionals
Five of the six NCAA Tournament men's golf regionals being played this week featured Southeastern Conference schools at the top of their respective leaderboards after completion of the first two days of competition on Tuesday.
The top five teams from each regional after Round 3 on Wednesday will advance to the National Championship Tournament.
Auburn took the second-day lead in the NCAA Auburn Regional at the Auburn University Club, shooting a 5-under team total of 283 on its home course move to 1-under for the tournament. Other SEC schools competing in that regional include Vanderbilt, currently in fourth at 4-over and Tennessee in ninth at 19-over.
Sophomore Brendan Valdes led the Tigers' lineup once more, shooting 69 (-3) to break the Auburn record for single season-rounds in the 60s with 15.Sophomore Brendan Valdes led the lineup once more, shooting 69 (-3) to break the Auburn record for single season-rounds in the 60s with 15.
"You've got to stay in the fight," head coach Nick Clinard said. "Our message is to start strong, stay strong, finish strong, and I told the guys we checked two of those boxes today. Tomorrow, we're going to check all three. We've got great players. They're encouraging each other and they're out there competing, so they're going to get the job done for one another."
The Tigers shot 283 (-5) for the round, a nine-shot improvement from the previous day, to position themselves 13 strokes above the NCAA Championship cutline. With a 69, Valdes surpasses previous record-holders, Trace Crowe (2015-19) and teammate J.M. Butler, to take sole possession for the single-season 60s record.
The Orlando, Florida product birdied 3 for a 35 on the front, then followed with three more birdies on 13, 14 and 16 before a lone bogey on 17 to lock down the 34 on his home stretch.
Arkansas grabbed the lead after Round 2 in the NCAA Salem Regional in at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls in Salem, South Carolina, moving to a whopping 39-under after shooting a 17-under team total of 271 Tuesday. Texas A&M is the only other SEC school in the Salem Regional and sits in a tie for eighth place at 12-under.
Georgia leads the NCAA Bath Regional after moving to 28-under following a second-day total of 274 (10-under). Florida is the only other SEC team in that regional and sits in a tie for sixth at 4-under after Round 2 festivities at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Michigan.
Alabama led host school Oklahoma by two strokes in the NCAA Norman Regional at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide moved up two spots and into the lead on the strength of an 8-under team total of 280 in Round 2, improving their overall score to 15-under. LSU (4-under) and Ole Miss (3-under) occupied the seventh and eighth places, respectively, in the same regional.
Conditions were difficult Tuesday in the NCAA Morgan Hill Regional at The Institute Golf Club in Morgan Hill, California, as none of the 13 competing schools was able to break par. In fact, Mississippi State remained in first despite shooting 10-over and was the only school to remain under par at 2-under after the first two rounds. Missouri currently sits tied for 10th in the regional after shooting 21-over on Tuesday to move to plus-20 overall.
"I'm really proud of the fight we showed today," Mississippi State coach Dusty Smith said. "The golf course played extremely difficult, and I felt like for the most part we managed it well. Ford Clegg and Ruan Pretorius really stepped up big for us today and gave us some much-needed momentum. We know this isn't easy and we need to manage the hard a little better tomorrow."
Clegg is the frontrunner for MSU through 36 holes. He is tied for fourth and sits just two strokes back from the individual leader, climbing five spots on Tuesday. The graduate leads the field in birdies made through the first two rounds.
There were no SEC schools competing in the NCAA Las Vegas Regional, which, not coincidentally, was the only regional that did not feature an SEC school in the lead at the end of Tuesday's second day of competition across the country.