Despite the second-lowest four-round score in program history, Alabama was unable to advance to match play at the NCAA Championship, finishing T11 at +21.
“Our guys fought their tails off,” said head coach Jay Seawell after the final round.
The Crimson Tide closed with a strong round of 280 (E) – one of the best final rounds – but were unable to make up the eight-shot gap between 13th and eighth that they needed to force a playoff. Thomas Ponder and Canon Claycomb fired rounds of 66 (-4) and 67 (-3) respectively, but over-par scores from the Tide’s three other starters held the team stagnate.
“We were just too far back. But in the end, I’m so proud of how they battled,” said Seawell.
Alabama was forced to wait for hours after a 289 in the third-round left them sitting on the cutline at T15. That round held up nicely however, as they found themselves moving up two spots by the end of the day and as one of the 15 teams to make the final-round cut.
They would finish tied with the No. 1 team in the country Vanderbilt, and defeat all but two of the SEC and future-SEC teams in the field.
Freshman Nick Dunlap led the team at the national championship, finishing T11 (E) for the week. Although he opened with a round of four-over 74, he would fire rounds of 68 and 66 before closing with a 72.
Claycomb also had a great week for Alabama, finishing T22 at two-over. His aforementioned final-round 67 included four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 11th hole.
Senior Thomas Ponder finished the week T58 (+10). Despite opening with rounds of 75-74-75, Ponder was able to find something on the last day and fire one of the Crimson Tide’s best rounds on Monday.
Jonathan Griz and JP Cave rounded out the starting lineup for Alabama, finishing T70 (+7) and T77 (+11) respectively.
“All in all, it was a great year. I’m really proud of these guys, I told them they kinda created their own identity. They brought their program, they made Alabama golf their own and they got it back to where a lot of other people have been able to take it.”
Alabama will return all of its starters next season, something that has one of the team’s veteran leaders excited.
“I’m more excited than I am anything else,” Claycomb said.
“Nobody thought we were going to be here anyway, so I think it’s a win on the season and I think if you ask anybody else in the field they’d be scared to have us come back with the same five next year.”
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