The University of Alabama men’s golf team’s players and coaches have repeatedly said during the postseason that they play their best when their backs are against the wall. That’s exactly where the Crimson Tide found themselves at the NCAA Championship on Sunday afternoon.
Similar to another team, No. 6 Alabama went from setting the course team record at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., to falling down the team standings and being on the brink of elimination. After shooting 9-under par 279 on Saturday, it came back with a +13 (301) and fell to ninth place on Sunday.
“We will learn from today,” Coach Jay Seawell said in a release. “We got punched in the mouth and this is the first time that I remember in which we didn’t punch back. I believe in these guys and everything that we have worked for is right there in front of them. We just talked about getting our minds right and we need to wake up tomorrow and execute our golf shots like I know we can.”
Alabama’s two All-SEC players, senior Lee Hodges and junior Davis Riley, both shot +5. Hodges was +2 overall on the individual leaderboard, tied for 34th, and Riley +4. Senior Jonathan Hardee was +4 on the day and +5 for the tournament.
Freshmen Davis Shore and Wilson Furr were both +2 on the round. Shore was at +4, and Furr +11.
At +10 overall, the team had to sit and wait for the afternoon scores to be completed to be sure it made the 15-team cut for the first time since 2014. After the fourth round Monday, when the individual honors are determined, the field will be narrowed to the eight teams for quarterfinal brackets and match play.
No. 28 Duke came in at -12, topping Alabama’s brief record, and took the tournament lead at -10. Top-seeded Oklahoma State had the next best completed round at -3, and was in second at -7. Texas Tech was the only other team under par at -3.
Numerous other SEC teams were jockeying into position to advance, with No. 4 Vanderbilt at +2 overall, No.9 Auburn +6 and No. 2 Texas A&M +7. No. 18 Arkansas made the initial cut at +12, but No. 7 Florida (+22) and No. 25 Kentucky (+28) did not.
Northwestern set the course record on Friday at -8, 280, and shot 308 on Saturday. The Wildcats finished the third round tied for 16th with Stanford at +20, and missed the cut.
Alabama will be in the final group to tee off from the 10th hole Monday, playing with the two teams directly ahead of it in the standings, Kent Start and Texas A&M, beginning at 2:10 p.m. ET.
— Alabama Men's Golf (@AlabamaMGolf) May 27, 2018