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Auburn Men’s Golf Wins First National Title in the Last Match

Auburn wins the 2024 NCAA DI Men's Golf Championship.

When both teams set out for their final matches today, they had already made history. Both Florida State and Auburn had never made it to the championship match before, and now they had a shot at their first title.

After yesterday’s semifinals, where both teams won in extra holes, we knew today’s match was going to be close.

At the beginning of the day, the matches were in Florida State’s favor. “It was dicey early,” said Auburn Head Coach Nick Clinard. “I was walking up the sixth fairway and I was like man, we’re in trouble. We’re down and out. But I knew that if Valdes, Butler and Koivun – those are my three All-Americans – and I put them in the final spots because I knew they had to come through if we had any chance to beat the wonderful Florida State team.”

Florida State's Luke Clanton and Auburn's J.M. Butler were the anchor match in today's finals.
Florida State’s Luke Clanton and Auburn’s J.M. Butler were the anchor match in today’s finals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

And the tide did begin to turn in freshman Jackson Koivun’s group. He ultimately chipped in from behind the 14th green to win his match 5&4. Brendan Valdes, a Haskins Award Final Watch List member, also won a point for Auburn, 4&3 – just like Coach Clinard expected.

Florida State’s first two pairings, Cole Anderson and then Tyler Weaver, both won their matches – 1 up and 2&1, respectively.

So it all came down to the anchor match between Florida State’s Luke Clanton and Auburn’s J.M. Butler. Sophomore Clanton had a successful run this week, tying for second in the individual portion of the championship, and winning both of his matches thus far – including the surprise re-entry of Christo Lamprecht for Georgia Tech.

Senior Butler won his match against Ohio State’s Neal Shipley, which must have given him some confidence after losing to Shipley in the semifinals of the 2023 U.S. Amateur. Butler was leading 1 up through 14 and teed off on 15 as the last match on the board.

Florida State's men's golf team watches teammate Clanton tee off on Hole 16.
Florida State’s men’s golf team watches teammate Clanton tee off on Hole 16. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

As the teams ran to watch their teammates, Clanton hit the green with his second shot, but it unfortunately couldn’t hold on and ran down the back hill into the water; Butler hit it onto the green and ultimately went 2 up with 3 three to play.

Butler teed off first at the par-3 16th over water, and his ball just trickled over into the back bunker. Clanton hit a wonderful shot under pressure, leaving himself a 12-foot putt for birdie. Butler went on to almost hole out his bunker shot, saving par. Clanton’s birdie putt just missed as well, moving them onto the next hole.

If Butler tied Clanton on Hole #17, he would win Auburn the championship. He striped a drive down the fairway and hit it to 33 feet. Clanton ended up in a fairway bunker and came up short of the green. Clanton pulled the pin and made an incredible chip that ran over the hole, popping up and leaving him a tap-in par.

The moment Auburn realizes they won the national title.
The moment Auburn realizes they won the national title. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Butler had two shots to win the championship. He lagged his putt close enough and was soon tackled by his team as Clanton conceded the hole.

Auburn tackles J.M. Butler after winning the national championship.
Auburn tackles J.M. Butler after winning the national championship. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Auburn has just won their first national championship.

Coach Clinard raises the NCAA trophy high.
Coach Clinard raises the NCAA trophy high. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Coach Clinard ends with, “It’s our tenth win. We clean-sweeped them – we won SECs, we won Regionals, we won Nationals and we’ve had 9 losses in the entire year. I think that goes down as one of the best teams in the history of college golf.” They were also ranked as the #1 team in men’s college golf before they won the trophy.

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