Auburn men’s golf sweeps SEC yearly awards

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Auburn’s Men’s Golf Team swept this season’s major SEC awards. (Todd Drexler/AU Athletics)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After a record-smashing regular season that culminated in the program’s fifth Southeastern Conference Championship, No. 1 Auburn men’s golf was recognized by the league with nine yearly SEC honors, including a sweep of the three major awards.

Tigers head coach Nick Clinard was voted SEC Coach of the Year while rookie Jackson Koivun captured both SEC Freshman of the Year and SEC Player of the Year.

Koivun and junior Brendan Valdes earned nods on the All-SEC First Team while senior J.M. Butler made the second team. Koivun and fellow rookie Josiah Gilbert also made the conference’s All-Freshman squad.

Junior Ryan Eshleman was rewarded for his involvement and high character with an appearance on the SEC Community Service Team.

For Clinard, it’s his second coach of the year title and first since 2018. He joins Sonny Dragoin (1976, 1981) and Mike Griffin (1995, 1997, 2001, 2002) as the third head coach in program history to win the award on multiple occasions.

Koivun becomes the sixth Auburn man to win SEC Freshman of the Year and the second to win SEC Player of the Year. He is the first Tiger to win both in the same season, a feat previously accomplished just twice in the league’s history. Alabama’s Justin Thomas and Robby Shelton swept the awards in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

It is the program’s first overall player of the year winner in nearly 30 seasons. Iain Steel (1994-95) was the initial Tiger to don the crown in 1995. Prior freshmen of the year include Hiroshi Matsuo (1988), Jimmy Green (1989), Shane Supple (1990), Ben Schlottman (2015) and Brandon Mancheno (2018).

In his first season as a collegiate golfer, Koivun has amassed a 69.15 scoring average, two wins, nine top-five finishes, 24 subpar rounds and is ranked fourth in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).

Joining Koivun as one of the eight players named to the league’s first team is Valdes. The Orlando, Florida product was a force to be reckoned with this season after collecting a win of his own alongside eight top-10 finishes, 22 subpar rounds and a 70.12 scoring average. Valdes is the third-highest SEC player in the most recent Scoreboard/Clippd rankings.

It is the second consecutive season with an appearance on the league’s first team for Valdes.

On the All-SEC Second Team, Butler was an undeniable pick after closing the season on a hot streak. He picked up two wins in his final four tournaments and secured the match-clinching point for the Tigers in their SEC Quarterfinal match against No. 9 Alabama. On the year, the Louisville, Kentucky native owns five top-10 finishes, 15 subpar rounds and a 71.63 scoring average.

Butler officially closes his Auburn career as a four-time All-SEC player, joining Bill Bergin (1978-81) as the only two men in program history with all-conference honors every season of their career.

Two of the league’s top newbies, Koivun and Gilbert represent Auburn’s seventh and eighth recognitions as the duo was voted to the seven-man all-freshman team. It marks the fifth consecutive season the Tigers have been represented with a rookie on the list.

In just his second start of the season, Gilbert was instrumental in the Tigers’ success at the 2024 SEC Championship as he went 3-0 in his match play, including a dominant performance in the title-clinching match versus the 2023 SEC Player of the Year, Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent.

Gilbert posted a 71.86 scoring average in his first season on The Plains bolstered by five top-10 outings and 14 subpar rounds.

Finally, Eshleman was Auburn’s representative on the SEC Community Service Team for the second year in a row. He serves as the Community Engagement Chair of Auburn’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and has partnered with the Jason Dufner Foundation, the Auburn Food Bank and Toys for Tots.

All SEC yearly awards are determined by a vote from the league’s 14 head coaches.

No. 1 Auburn looks to continue is white-hot play at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, May 13-15, at LSU’s University Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The top five teams from the regional will earn a ticket to the 2024 NCAA Championship slated for May 24-29 at the Omni La Costa Champions Course in Carlsbad, California.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Jackson Koivun, Auburn

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Jackson Koivun, Auburn

COACH OF THE YEAR

Nick Clinard, Auburn

FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC

Jackson Koivun, Auburn

Michael La Sasso, Ole Miss

Jack Lundin, Missouri

Brendan Valdes, Auburn

Gordon Sargent, Vanderbilt

Matthew Riedel, Vanderbilt

Jacob Skov Olesen, Arkansas

Cole Sherwood, Vanderbilt

SECOND TEAM ALL-SEC

Phichaksn Maichon, Texas A&M

Jake Hall, Tennessee

Bryce Lewis, Tennessee

Alex Goff, Kentucky

Ian Gilligan, Florida

J.M. Butler, Auburn

Jackson Van Paris, Vanderbilt

Ben van Wyk, Georgia

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Jackson Koivun, Auburn

Jack Turner, Florida

Josiah Gilbert, Auburn

Camden Smith, Georgia

Jay Mendell, LSU

Thomas Curry, Arkansas

Bruce Murphy, Tennessee

COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM

Thomas Ponder, Alabama

Kaelen Dulany, Arkansas

Ryan Eshleman, Auburn

Rylan Shim, Florida

Caleb Manuel, Georgia

Tanner Parks, Kentucky

Connor Gaunt, LSU

Tom Fischer, Ole Miss

Jack Lundin, Missouri

Rafe Reynolds, South Carolina

Vishnu Sadagopan, Texas A&M

Jackson Van Paris, Vanderbilt