Brutal Break Costs Auburn Freshman Jackson Koivun Chance At NCAA Men's Individual Championship Title And A Trip To The Masters

Requiring a birdie on 18 to tie the eventual champion, Koivun was almost too accurate with his approach shot...

Jackson Koivun hits an iron shot at the 2024 NCAA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A bad break in golf can happen from time to time, whether it be an inconsistent bounce or ending up in a fairway divot after absolutely smoking a drive. But when it happens on the final hole while the unfortunate party is in contention for the biggest prize of their career to date, you'd have to imagine that would be very tough to take.

Sadly for Jackson Koivun, the Auburn University freshman does not have to imagine that feeling after he fell victim to a cruel ricochet on the 72nd hole of the 2024 NCAA Men's Individual Championship at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California.

The San Jose, California-born player headed down the par-4 18th on Monday knowing only a birdie would do if he was to tie Georgia Tech sophomore, Hiroshi Tai at the top of the leaderboard.

After sitting his drive in the perfect position to attack the green, Koivun sent his approach shot right down Hollywood Boulevard and heading towards the flag. However, Koivun's second shot was perhaps *too* accurate as his ball slammed off the top of the flag stick and vaulted backwards into the front green-side bunker.

Instead of making an unlikely eagle - which would have earned him the title outright - the man who had only just enjoyed his 19th birthday four days earlier was forced to settle for a highly-respectable par and a share of second place alongside the University of Illinois' Tyler Goecke and Florida State's Luke Clanton. Meanwhile, Tai will take part in the 2025 Masters as a result of his victory.

A form of consolation for Koivun will be that his Auburn squad will compete in the NCAA men's golf team championship later this week after they finished sixth at 19-over. He could end up facing off against Tai once more, too, after Georgia Tech squeezed into the eight-team match play event with a cumulative score of 25-over.

One player and team the pair will not battle against is 2024 PGA Tour University champion, Michael Thorbjornsen's Stanford University. Both Thorbjornsen and his college missed the 54-hole cut, but it mattered not to the American as he followed Ludvig Aberg directly to the PGA Tour via the No.1 position in the University ranking system.

The 22-year-old wrapped up his college career this week, but only after netting three college victories and four made cuts in professional events over the past two years - the highlight of which was a fourth-place finish at the 2022 Travelers Championship near his home town of Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Thorbjornsen narrowly edged out 2023 Open Championship silver medal winner, Christo Lamprecht - who will earn full Korn Ferry Tour membership for the remainder of the 2024 season.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.