Although the University of Alabama men’s golf team didn’t win, the Crimson Tide felt like they found something at the recent SEC Tournament.
Granted, Alabama came close — very close — with the title coming down to the last hole of the final match and decided by one putt. But the Crimson Tide left having learned how good they could be.
“I kind of feel like we have that mojo,” junior Davis Riley said. “My first two years we had really good teams also, but there’s just something special about this team.”
Monday, the Crimson Tide will start finding out if that indeed is the case when Alabama opens play at the Stockton Regional, hosted by Pacific University, on the par 72, 7,132-yard Reserve at Spanos Park.
Even though the three-day qualifier for the NCAA Championships is in California, No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Alabama are the top-seeded teams, followed by No. 18 Stanford, No. 19 USC and No. 30 Oregon.
#Alabama has made its 14th straight NCAA Tournament and 22nd appearance in program history! The Crimson Tide will be the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Regional in Stockton, Calif., which will be held May 14-16!#RollTide#NCAAGolf pic.twitter.com/AIADDAlmBv
— Alabama Men's Golf (@AlabamaMGolf) May 2, 2018
The top five teams from each of the six regionals will advance to play at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., on May 25-30.
All 14 SEC teams made the field and are vying for one of the final 30 spots. If the seedings hold, eight should advance including Alabama, but no one would be surprised to see more qualify.
However, the seedings didn’t hold at the SEC Tournament.
Alabama went in ranked third among the 14 teams and finished the stroke play part of the tournament tied for fourth. It knocked off then-No. 4 Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals, and No. 7 Florida in the semifinals. The championship was decided by a 20-foot birdie putt made by No. 9 Auburn.
In all three matches, Alabama was down early.
In all three matches, it came back, which still puts a smile on coach Jay Seawell’s face:
“With our backs against the wall we play better,” he said.
Two moments especially stood out to the coach, who had been trying to measure the pulse of the team all season and still didn’t quite know what to expect from his younger players.
The first was when after carding a +3 (73) on the first day of stroke play, Wilson Furr came back and shot the second round 10 strokes better at 63. Even after it became obvious that he was going to post a good score, the freshman who would compete in the match-play part in Alabama’s fifth spot wasn’t content and kept pushing. He ended up placing 10th overall.
The other came in the semifinal against the Gators. In the third match, Florida’s Gordon Neale had a three-stroke lead midway through the round and freshman Davis Shore not only came back, but won the match.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 28, 2018
There’s a toughness and resiliency there that could make Alabama very tough to beat during these final two events, especially if it can get into the match play portion of the NCAA Championships.
“You have to truly believe, and that’s not lip service,” the coach said. “You really, truly have to have a walk, talk about you, because when that pressure comes, if you don’t, it will crack the most fragile of teams, even the most strongest of teams.
“I’m starting to see some of that. I hate to use the word swagger, but that walk and the talk with each other about things that are more than this moment, further down, bigger-picture moments, which I like to hear. It means that they’re starting to believe.”
The three top-seeded teams tee off first beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET.