Long's albatross propels host Auburn to NCAAs

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AUBURN, Ala. – Tumbling down the leaderboard on its home course, Auburn needed a spark late in the third round of the NCAA regionals.

Tigers freshman Will Long provided that and more Saturday when he made an albatross on the par-5 16th at Auburn University Club. The 2 gave the team a much-needed boost as it finished third (at 14-over 878) and secured one of the five available berths to next week’s NCAA Championship.

At the time of Long’s deuce, Auburn was only two shots clear of sixth place. 

“You could tell it was getting close,” he said. “You could tell by the way the coaches were acting that they were nervous. It was really big to have that go in.” 

Long had 277 yards to the hole – a perfect 3-wood – when he striped his second shot to the front edge of the green. The ball bounded onto the putting surface, rolled like a putt for another 15 feet, and dropped into the hole for his first-ever albatross. 

Long, who shot 69 to tie for 11th, said he “doesn’t even remember” his reaction. “I just blanked,” he said. 

His assistant coach, Evan Osteen, remembers it more vividly. When the ball disappeared, Long hoisted his arms in the air, both he and his coach screamed, and Osteen jumped to give him a hug.

“I tried to jump real high,” Osteen said, “but it probably wasn’t as high as I thought. It was fun to watch.”

Even better: Niclas Carlsson followed in the very next group and made eagle-3, after hitting his second shot to 12 feet. 

“Good timing,” head coach Nick Clinard said, smiling. 

All three teams that hosted regionals – Auburn, Missouri and Oregon – advanced to next week’s NCAA finals.