Men, Women Golfers Off To Good Start

The Alabama men's golf team of Coach Jay Seawell was recognized for its success in its spring season opening tournament. The women's team of Coach Mic Potter came up short, but not for a lack of last day effort. Both teams are considered to be among the nation's best this year.

The Alabama men opened the season with a dominating performance in the Puerto Rico Classic last week, a 30-under-par effort that had the Crimson Tide 18 strokes in front of the nearest "challenger," Clemson. This week, Golfweek named Bama as the publication's Team of the Week.

Moreover, Alabama freshman Justin Thomas, who was individual winner in Puerto Rico, was named the National Player of the Week.

Alabama's 30-under-par score of 834 in the 54-hole tournament was the third lowest in relation to par in Alabama history. Every player on the team finished at even par or better for the tournament.

Thomas, a native of Goshen, Ky., captured medalist honors with a 10-under-par total of 206. He fired rounds of 67, 71 and 68 for his second medalist honor in his fifth career start. Thomas leads the team with a 70.8 scoring average and is 5-under-par for the season.

Alabama's men will next play in the Southern Highlands in Las Vegas March 9-11.

Meanwhile in New Orleans, the Tide got off to a horrific start, but staged a great comeback, only to come up just short. Jennifer Kirby and Brooke Pancake combined to shoot 7-under par on the final day of the tournament Tuesday to propel Alabama to a fourth-place finish at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate on the par-72, 6,105-yard English Turn Country Club.

The Crimson Tide fired the lowest round of the tournament by any team with a 3-under-par 285 in the final round to finish at 20-over 884. UA finished seven strokes behind winning Duke with a 13-over total of 877. Colorado finished second at 880 (+16) with Southern California in third at 881 (+17) while Baylor (+23, 887) rounded out the top five.

"We put a lot of pressure on the leaders and actually got within a couple shots of the lead at one point, but we did not finish very well, Potter said. "We made a run and that is a good thing. It was a long way from where we started the tournament."

Kirby, a junior from Paris, Ontario, Canada, got out to an extremely fast start and finished with a 4-under-par 68 in the final round and a 1-under-par total of 215 to tie for fourth individually. She began her round on the seventh hole and opened with two pars before catch fire and registering four straight birdies on holes 9-12.

Kirby then reeled off eight straight pars before a birdie on the par-3 third hole got her to 5-under. She would bogey the fifth hole to finish with a 68 and her second top-five finish of the season.

Pancake, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., fired a 69 with five birdies and two bogeys on her round. Her 3-under-par 69 moved her up from a tie for 36th place entering the round to a tie for 11th. It was her fourth top-20 finish of the year.

Sophomores Stephanie Meadow and Hannah Collier both carded 2-over-par rounds of 74 in Tuesday's final round. Meadow finished tied for 16th at 6-over 222 while Collier tied for 49th at 230.

Johanna Tilström shot 78 in round three and was dropped from the Crimson Tide scorecard. Courtney McKim, competing as an individual, shot 78.

The Crimson Tide gets right back to work this weekend at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Friday-Sunday at the Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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