After enduring 8 hours and 10 minutes of stop-and-go golf on Friday, Auburn returned to Prairie Dunes Country Club ready to play on Saturday. Matt Gilchrest, who played seven holes at even-par on Friday, birdied the 18th, 1st and 2nd holes en route to a 3-under, 67, that put him in the clubhouse tied for second at the end of his round. Counting all five players, Auburn was 9-under during Saturday's play and takes a 6-under, 274 into the clubhouse.
"Today more than any other tournament you had to be mentally tough," Gilchrest said. "Not because it's nationals, that's a battle of its own, but we didn't know if we were playing two holes, five holes or all the holes yesterday or today. You just have to be ready to play when they blow the horn. I kept my head in the right place all day."
"Yesterday was a long day," Auburn head coach Nick Clinard said. "There was a lot of sitting around and waiting. We got off to a rough start, which we have done quite a bit lately unfortunately, but I'm really proud of the guys. They hung in there and they came out this morning ready to play."
Gilchrest was not the only Auburn player to find new life in the resumed round. Niclas Carlsson was plus-1 before the rains derailed Friday's play but rebounded to shoot 3-under on Saturday and carded a 2-under, 68, his third straight round in the 60s at the NCAA Championships dating back to the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.
"I struck the ball very well both yesterday and today," Carlsson said. "I think I missed one fairway and one green total. I just didn't make any putts. I'm going to work on my putting this afternoon and just try to play the way I did today to the green and just try to make more putts tomorrow."
Will Long also finished 2-under for the round, collecting three birdies on Saturday after shooting par on the first 10 holes he played in the tournament.
"Yesterday you had to be really patient and not get frustrated with the weather. Today, there was no wind. It was calm, perfect conditions," Long said. "I didn't really play too aggressive (on Saturday). Middle of the greens and I made a few putts here and there and drove it really well too."
Jake Mondy and Daniel Stringfellow both finished plus-1 for the round. Stringfellow shot even-par on Saturday with a birdie on seven and a bogey on eight while Mondy birdied seven to shoot 1-under on the day.
"The rain delay wasn't too bad. I got to clear my mind a little bit and restart," Stringfellow said. "Today was good weather and soft greens. This course suits a long hitter pretty well. The greens are soft so you can hit a lot of wedges and attack the pins."
"Yesterday was tough with all the stopping-and-going. It's never fun warming up three times and getting to play eight holes in the span of about 11 hours. It was nice to regroup," Mondy said. "My short game was really good today. I didn't hit it as well as I should have but I got up-and-down and made some good putts inside of five and six feet."
With weather keeping 15 teams from even starting Friday's first round, the tee times for Sunday will be determined following Saturday's play.