TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Against a field that featured six of the top 10 teams in the country, Alabama battled their way to a top-five finish this week at the Fighting Illini Invitational.
Coming in off a season-opening victory the week prior, Alabama found themselves in a hole early. After an opening round 290 (+10), the Crimson Tide found themselves in 12th place out of 15 teams.
But the Tide would play even-par golf over the final two rounds to surge seven spots up the leaderboard over the weekend.
Despite the tough start, head coach Jay Seawell was proud of his team’s resilience.
“I really am proud of the way our guys responded over the final 36 holes,” Seawell said.
“This is a tough tournament, and it becomes that much tougher when you start the way we did.”
Perhaps the Tide’s two true freshmen, Nick Dunlap and Jonathan Griz, just needed some time to get acclimated.
Both players responded to poor opening rounds with stellar performances on the weekend.
Dunlap followed an opening 77 by going three-under over his last 36 holes, while Griz followed his 83 with rounds of 73-68 over the weekend.
And while a bounce-back top five is nice, these kinds of starts from the Tide could spell doom for Alabama’s championship hopes if not addressed.
“I believe we have a chance to be a special team this year, but you can’t be special and have days like we did,” Seawell said.
While the Tide search for consistency at the bottom of the lineup, the duo of Canon Claycomb and Thomas Ponder continues to be a dependable one for coach Seawell.
The two finished inside the top ten for the second time through two tournaments this season.
Claycomb followed up his second career collegiate victory with a one-under-par performance, while Ponder finished the week even-par after rounds of 68-69 to open the week.
Senior Simms Abney rounded things out for Alabama, finishing T72 after rounds of 76-79-74.
Alabama will make its only home appearance of the season when it hosts the SEC Match Play on September 25-27 in Birmingham, Alabama at Old Overton Country Club.
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