AUBURN, Ala. -- Top-ranked Alabama finished off a 22-shot win at the NCAA Auburn Regional championship Saturday at the par-72, 7,254-yard Auburn University Club to advance to the program's 17th NCAA championships.
"I am really proud of this team," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "This is a special group that really likes to compete. They are great players, obviously, but they have a special bond and chemistry and work so well together. That is really what makes them special. I am very proud of that.
"We came into the day with the mindset that we had not won anything yet, and we came out and played like champions. I also have to thank our fans. The Alabama fans came out in force; it was like a home match. We painted this town crimson and white and it was a lot of fun."
The Crimson Tide shot 6-under-par 282 in the final round for an 11-under-par 853. Kennesaw State finished second with an 11-over 875. KSU's final-round 1-under 287 was the only under-par round of the week outside of the Crimson Tide's three sup-par rounds.
Host Auburn finished third at 14-over 878 while second-seeded Virginia Tech was fourth at 18-over 882 and third-seeded Texas was fifth at 20-over 884. The top five finishers at the NCAA Auburn Regional advance to the NCAA championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club on May 23-28 in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Senior Cory Whitsett paced Alabama with a runner-up finish at 4-under-par 212. Whitsett, a Houston native, shot an even-par 72 in the final round and finished second to Austin Peay's Marco Iten, who shot a final-round 67 to win by four shots. Whitsett made double bogey on the first hole but recorded four birdies and two bogeys on the final 17 holes.
Sophomore Tom Lovelady recorded a career-best tie for third place at 3-under-par 213. The Birmingham native strung together rounds of 72, 71 and 70. Senior Trey Mullinax also posted a top-10 finish with a tie for seventh at 1-under 215 following a final round 71.
True freshman Robby Shelton was the Tide's low score in the final round with a 3-under 69 to finish tied for 13th at 1-over 217. Bobby Wyatt's 79 was dropped from the team score on Saturday as he finished tied for 28th at 7-over 223.
It is the fourth consecutive NCAA championships appearance for the Crimson Tide and the 17th overall. Alabama has now qualified for the NCAA championships seven times in coach Seawell's 12 years, including seven of the past eight years. It also marked Alabama's record-tying eighth win of the season and 16th in the last 21 events.