Tide Men's Golf At Indiana Regional

Alabama can expect to have some men's golf team members finish hiugh in this week's NCAA Regional Tournament at Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Ind. In order to win the event, though, it may be important for a player or two not ranked among the nation's best to have a good tournament.

Alabama is ranked third in the nation and is the top seed in the Indiana Regional, which is being played over a 6,805-yard, par 72 Wolf Run course. After a Wednesday practice round, the 54-hole tournament will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Jay Seawell doesn't have to win the tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, but Bama does have to play well against a competitive field. Ten of the 14 teams competing are ranked in the top-60 according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings Index, including five in the top 26. Second-seeded Illinois is ranked 11th nationally, while the No. 3-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes rank 18th nationally by Golfweek. Regional three-seed Stanford is ranked 21st, followed by Wake Forest (26th), Tennessee (23rd), Indiana (37th), Florida State (41st), Michigan (53rd) and Charlotte (59th).

The Bama lineup features three the nation's top golfers in junior Bud Cauley and freshmen Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt. Cauley ranks sixth in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, while Whitsett is 10th and Wyatt is 25th.

Cauley and Whitsett were named first-team All-SEC while Wyatt was a second-team choice. Whitsett was also named the SEC Freshman of the Year and was joined by Wyatt on the All-Freshman team. It is the third straight year for Cauley to earn first-team All-SEC honors, including being SEC Freshman of the Year in 2009. Cauley has seven top-10 finishes with a victory at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Classic. He also leads the team and ranks second nationally with a 70.52 scoring average.

Whitsett is just behind Cauley with a 70.96 stroke average to rank fourth in the SEC and 10th nationally. He captured his first win at the Linger Longer Invitational where he shot a career-low 13-under-par 203 to edge Cauley by one stroke. He is just the second Tide player (Cauley) to earn first-team All-SEC honors as a true freshman.

Wyatt, nationally known for the score of 57 he recorded in winning the Alabama Boys Championship a year ago, missed three tournaments leading up the SEC Championship. He has a 71.57 stroke average, which ranks eighth in the SEC. He boasts three top-five showings, including a runner-up finish at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.

What Alabama needs is to get good support from other Tide players. Hunter Hamrick, a junior, is certainly capable. He has been All-Southeastern Conference and two years ago was medalist at the NCAA Regional. This year he is averaging 72.67 and has three top 10 finishes. The forgotten freshman (easy to be with Whitsett and Wyatt two of the nation's finest) is Trey Mullinax, who averaged 73.11. Hamrick and/or Mullinax having a good tournament would be very good for Bama.

This is the Tide's seventh straight trip to the NCAA postseason and its eighth in the last nine years under Coach Jay Seawell. Alabama has been a great tournament team throughout the 2010-11 season with five tournament wins (Carpet Capital, Isleworth, Puerto Rico, Palmetto and Linger Longer). The Crimson Tide has not finished worse than fourth this season in nine stroke play events and boasts a head-to-head record of 108-9-0.

Alabama is one of two teams (Florida is the other) that has multiple wins over top-ranked Oklahoma State, beating the Cowboys with victories at the Isleworth Collegiate and the Puerto Rico Classic. UA is 2-2 against the Pokes, 1-0 vs. UCLA, 1-3 vs. Florida and 2-0 vs. Georgia Tech for a 6-5 mark vs. the top five. The Tide is 14-7 against the Golfweek/Sagarin top 10 and 37-9 against the top 25. UA has not lost to a team outside the top 25 with its lowest-ranked loss coming to No. 25 Clemson at the Insperity ASU Invitational.

Alabama has been even tougher against teams in the NCAA Indiana Regional at the Wolf Run Golf Club. The Crimson Tide boasts a 15-1 record against the field in Indiana, including a 2-0 mark vs. No. 2-seed Illinois, a 3-0 record vs. fourth-seed Stanford, 1-0 vs. No. 5 Wake Forest and 3-1 vs. No. 6 Tennessee. UA also has two wins over eighth-seed Florida State and 11th-seed Memphis while garnering single victories vs. No. 7 Indiana and No. 9 Michigan.

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