SEC Championship: Auburn and Vanderbilt slated for championship match
Auburn Athletics Photo
Auburn Athletics Photo

The SEC Match Play final is set, and it’s sure to be an incredible duel in Sea Island, Georgia, between Auburn and Vanderbilt. The two programs have been superb all year, and the winner on Sunday will head to NCAA Regionals with a tailwind, much like Florida, the SEC and National Champion last year.

Auburn earned the top seed in the match play after shooting 14-under par in the 54-hole stroke play qualifying. A big reason for that seeding was Jackson Koivun’s winning individual score of 12-under par. 

In the quarterfinals, Auburn played Alabama and beat them 3-2. Three of the matches reached the 18th hole or beyond in a hotly contested showdown. Brendan Valdes and JP Cave needed 20 holes to settle their match. Cave led 2-up after six holes, and that was the biggest deficit in their match. Cave tied the match on the 15th hole, and finally closed out Valdes on the 20th hole. 

Auburn’s Carson Bacha grabbed the lead after the first hole against Jonathan Griz and kept it until Griz tied the match on the 18th green and then won the point on the 19th green. A tough loss for Bacha. 

Josiah Gilbert ran out to a quick 5-up lead at the turn and closed out Jones Free 4&3 to nab a point for Auburn. In another close match, Jackson Koivun won holes 14, 15, and 18 to turn his match against Canon Claycomb for a 1-up win. J.M. Butler grabbed an early 3-up lead after seven holes in his match against Thomas Ponder and never looked back, winning 2&1.

In the afternoon, Auburn made quick work of Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat Georgia 3-2 in a closely fought match that saw every match reach the 17th hole, and three matches required the 18th hole to decide matches. 

However, they were overwhelmed by the Tigers 4-1. Bacha earned his first point with a with a 3&2 win over Driscoll. Gilbert and Koivun both finished the day with two wins. Gilbert beat Jacob Skov Olesen 1 up and Koivun jumped out to a 4-up lead at the turn and cruised to a 3&2 victory. Matthis Lefèvre collected the loan win for Arkansas over J.M Butler 1 up.

On the other side of the bracket, Vanderbilt and Florida faced off in the quarterfinals. While Vanderbilt is deep 1 through 5, the Gators would have loved the idea that they beat Gordon Sargent and Cole Sherwood. That's exactly what happened on Saturday. J Turner beat Cole Sherwood 1 up, and Ian Gilligan beat Gordon Sargent in 20 holes. 

The Commodore's depth shined through, though, as the other three players pulled out points. Matthew Reidel recorded the biggest win, a 6&5 victory over Tyler Wilkes. Jackson Van Paris also had an excellent quarterfinal match, beating Parker Bell 4&2. William Moll beat Kress on the 19th hole to earn the third point for Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M was waiting for Vanderbilt in the semi-final after they beat Tennessee 3-2. It was as far as the Aggies were going to go, as Vanderbilt won a match that had some big swings throughout the day. At certain points, the Aggies were looking poised to make an upset. Van Paris was the only Commodore to win two points on Saturday, as he beat Jamie Montojo in 20 holes. Incredibly, Van Paris never trailed. He led starting on hole 2 and the match wasn’t tied again until the 18th hole when Montojo made a birdie to force extra holes. But Van Paris was able to make a three on the 20th hole to take the match. 

Sherwood and Sargent both bounced back with wins in their matches. Sargent never trailed in his match, but his lead was never bigger than 1 up. He closed out Daniel Rodrigues on the 18th hole 1 up. Sherwood had the shortest match, beating Phichaksn ******Maichon 4&3. With the proceedings decided, Moll and Aaron Pounds finished 18 holes in a tie, making the final score 3-1-1. Michael Heidelbaugh earned the sole point for the Aggies with a 1-up win over Reidel. 

Championship Matchups

Carson Bacha v. William Moll

Brendan Valdes v. Jackson Van Paris

J Gilbert v. G Sargent

Jackson Koivun v. Matthew Reidel

J.M. Butler v. Cole Sherwood

Day 3 Recap

After 54 holes at Sea Island’s Seaside Course, the SEC match play bracket is set. The eight schools that held the eight available positions entering the final round all earned berths in the match play, but the seedings were shuffled after some teams had strong days and others slipped down the leaderboard. 

Vanderbilt was 15-under par and held a four-shot lead after 36 holes over Georgia and Florida. However, none of those teams were in the top two spots when the dust settled on Friday afternoon.

Tennessee was six shots behind Vanderbilt, but a 5-under score helped them jump to the top of the leaderboard. Evan Woosley-Reed shot a team-best 65 for the Volunteers, which was capped by an eagle on the 408-yard par-4 13th. He finished up the round with five straight birdies. Jake Hall shot a 3-under 67, and Bryce Lewis shot an even-par 70. Lance Simpson's second-over 72 was the fourth counting score.

Auburn finished T1 with Tennessee, which shot 4-under  on Friday. Koivun led the Tigers with a 66. Josiah Gilbert was the other Tiger under par with a 68. Brendan Valdes and J.M. Butler were the other counting scores; they each shot 71.

Auburn earned the No. 1 seed, and Tennessee will be the No. 2 seed.

The first two rounds recap

The only other team that moved up within the top eight was Arkansas, which shot the low round of the day as a team. Their 8-under day moved them from solo eighth place into T4. Tom Curry shot a career-low 5-under 65, which was also the second-best score ever shot by an Arkansas Razorback in the SEC Championship. Matthis Lefèvre (68), John Driscoll (69), and Jacob Skov Olesen (70) were the other Razorbacks counting scores.

As teams moved up, others slipped down the board. Florida had the worst day, falling from second to sixth place. An even par day from Vanderbilt would have secured the top seed. Instead, they shot 2-over par and are in third place and will play defending champion Florida in the quarterfinals. 


No. 1 Auburn v. No. 8 Alabama

No. 2 Tennessee v. No. 7 Texas A&M

No. 3. Vanderbilt v. No. 6 Florida

No. 4 Georgia v. No. 5 Arkansas

Koivun wins SEC Individual crown

College rookies are not supposed to be beacons of consistency. Yet, Jackson Koivun doesn’t seem interesting in fitting stereotypes. The Auburn first-year fired three straight rounds of 4-under 66 to win the SEC individual title at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia.

The six-shot victory was nothing short of dominant, as Koivun made just four bogeys in the 54-hole event. Koivun is currently ranked No. 28 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings.

The day started with Koivun holding a one shot lead over Florida’s Jack Turner. A slew of players including Cole Sherwood and Bryce Lewis were three back at five-under par. Someone was sure to make a run at the young leader. Instead, Koivun shot a front nine 33 to get to 11-under par. No one was able to touch him, and Koivun cruised home with a 35 on the back that included birdies on hole Nos. 15 and 17 for a six shot victory.



Results: SEC Championship
1NCJackson KoivunChapel Hill, NC80066-66-66=198
T2TXMatthew RiedelHouston, TX50067-69-68=204
T2MSHunter LoganSteens, MS50068-67-69=204
T2PortugalDaniel RodriguesPortugal50067-68-69=204
T2FLJack TurnerOrlando, FL50068-65-71=204

View full results for SEC Championship

ABOUT THE SEC Championship

54-hole stroke play tournament crowns an individual champion, then eight teams advance to match play to determine the SEC team champion.

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