SEC announces yearly golf awards

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – For the 14th straight season, Auburn men’s golf has been recognized with players on All-Southeastern Conference teams as J.M. Butler, Brendan Valdes and Reed Lotter were highlighted amongst the SEC’s best following a successful regular season, the league office announced Thursday.
Voted on by the SEC’s head coaches, Lotter earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team while Butler made Second Team and Valdes was named to the first team. Junior Ryan Eshleman also represents the Orange & Blue on the SEC Community Service Team.
Auburn now owns 96 All-SEC honorees in its history, including 40 that have come under head coach Nick Clinard’s tenure. This season’s haul marks the first time the Tigers have earned at least three yearly recognitions since 2020.
With the conference’s third-lowest scoring average, sophomore Valdes proved himself to be one of the most dangerous in the league and earned the Tigers’ first First-Team All-SEC award since Jovan Rebula (2016-21) in 2020. Valdes is also the program’s first underclassman to make First Team since Matt Gilchrest (2013-17) and Ben Schlottman (2014-2018) in 2015.
The Orlando, Florida product has been a heavy contributor to the Tiger lineup throughout the fall and spring seasons as 26 of his 27 team rounds have been counted toward Auburn’s overall scores. Valdes has fired 25 of 30 total rounds at par or better, which included a streak of 16 consecutive from Oct. 3 – April 10.
On Oct. 25, Valdes solidified himself amongst an elite group, shooting 10-under at the Isleworth Collegiate to lock up the first victory of his career. Following the win, he also earned a nod as the SEC Golfer of the Week.
Valdes’ scoring average, 69.47, is a 2.85 strokes per round improvement from a year ago and is nearly a whole shot below the single-season Auburn record (70.37).
Valdes and Butler are currently tied at 14 apiece for another school record — single-season rounds in the 60s. The record was previously set by Trace Crowe (2015-19) in 2018 and then tied by Butler in 2022.
Butler makes his presence felt on the SEC awards list for the third time in his career as the junior was voted to the second team once again. The Louisville, Kentucky product becomes the 10th golfer in Tigers history to be named a three-time All-SEC performer.
This season, Butler owns a career-best 69.77 scoring average, seven top-20 finishes and 11 head-to-head wins versus top-25 national players. He was named the SEC Golfer of the Week on Oct. 5 following a second place showing at the Marquette Invitational. At Marquette, he shot 208 (-2) to lead the lineup and push the Tigers to a second straight victory to begin the fall slate. Butler followed the impressive outing with four straight top-10 finishes at Isleworth, the Dorado Beach Collegiate, the Tiger Invitational and the General Hackler Championship.
Rookie sensation Lotter makes noise on the All-Freshman squad after making his collegiate debut less than three months ago. Through 20 rounds of competition, Lotter averages 70.35 shots per round, good for 12th in the SEC and third amongst its freshmen. The Savannah, Georgia native has finished inside the top 20 in all six tournaments completed and has carded 17 of 20 rounds at par or better, including a 13-for-14 streak for counted team rounds.
Lotter is closing in on a pair of school records for freshmen as his 10 rounds in the 60s and 14 subpar rounds are a respective one round and five rounds short of Auburn’s benchmarks. Brandon Mancheno (2017-20) holds both records with 11 rounds in the 60s and 19 subpar rounds during his rookie campaign.
Finally, Eshleman was rewarded for his efforts off the course with a spot on the league’s community service team. Eshleman not only serves as the community engagement chair on Auburn’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee but also has also given back through partnerships with the Jason Dufner Foundation, the Auburn Food Bank and Toys for Tots.
All four men return to competition next week as Auburn is set to host an NCAA Regional at Auburn University Club, May 15-17. The regional is free and open to the public and will serve as a preliminary to the 2023 NCAA Championship.

SEC announces yearly golf awards

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