Tide Men's Golf Begins NCAA Title Play

Alabama Golf Coach Jay Seawell recounted a story in which the late Bama athletics director, Mal Moore, called him one day and asked if he could come out to get a little help with his game. Moore was going to have to play in a celebrity golf tournament the next day and hadn't been playing or practicing for months.

Seawell said that he warned his boss that "a college golf coach doesn't develop ability as much as he recruits it."

Jay Seawell appears to have done both in his 11 years as Alabama head men's golf coach. Since taking the Crimson Tide to an NCAA Regional in his first year (2003), this marked the 10th year in 11 that Bama has made the tournament field. And after winning the NCAA Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, Alabama will be participating in its seventh consecutive NCAA Championship Tournament berth.

Alabama begins play in the NCAA Championships on the Crabapple Course at the Capital City Club in Atlanta Tuesday. After stroke play reduces the field to eight, the teams will play match play for the championship. The tournament ends Sunday. Last year, Alabama and Texas came to the last hole of the championship tied with the Longhorns winning the title by a stroke over Bama.

To say that Alabama has had a successful season is an understatement.

Alabama won one fall tournament, the prestigious Jerry Pate NationaL Collegiate Invitational at Old Overton in Birmingham. In the spring part of the season, Bama has been exceptional. The Crimson Tide won the Puerto Rico Classic and then finished second at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. From there Alabama rolled off first place finishes in the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia; the Aggie Invitational at the Traditions in Bryan, Texas; the Southeastern Conference Championship at Seaside in Sea Island, Ga.; and the NCAA Regionals at the University Club in Baton Rouge.

All five Alabama golfers are in the top 60 of the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index with three among the top eight. Junior Bobby Wyatt leads the way at No. 3 with while junior Cory Whitsett is fourth and sophomore Justin Thomas eighth. Junior Trey Mullinax is 37th this week, and Scott Strohmeyer – the lone senior, and the individual winner of the Baton Rouge Regional -- is 57th.

Seawell's Tide teams have won 32 tournament titles over the last 11 years, including the 2009, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Regional titles. Alabama also finished first in the stroke-play portion of the 2012 NCAA Championships. UA has won a school-record seven times in 2012-13. The Crimson Tide also set the school record with five straight wins -- and counting.

Prior to the NCAA Tournament switching to regional format in 1991, Bama made five NCAA Finals appearances in 1973-75, 1981 and 1983 under Coach Conrad Rehling. Alabama has 22 total appearances (regionals and finals) in the NCAA men's golf tournament. The 1975 team, that featured Crimson Tide legend Jerry Pate, earned UA's second-best finish in the NCAA Finals with a tie for third place. Following Rehling's last trip in 1983, Alabama didn't make its return to the NCAA Finals until 1992 when Spybey's squad finished 11th. Following trips to the NCAA Finals in 1993 and again in 1996, UA would not return for another eight years until Seawell's 2005 team advanced out of the East Regional. The 2007 season marked the beginning of six trips to the NCAA Championships in seven years.

Alabama junior Cory Whitsett was named the Southeastern Conference Men's Golfer of the Year. Seawell was tabbed as the SEC Coach of the Year for the second straight season (third overall) after guiding the Crimson Tide to the program's fourth SEC Championship. Whitsett was also a tri-winner of the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a first-team All-SEC selection along with Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt. Trey Mullinax was named to the All-SEC second team.

Oh, and by the way: the end to the Mal Moore quick lesson story is that Bama's athletics director laced an approach shot to within a foot of the pin for a birdey before a packed gallery on the 18th hole at Shoal Creek.

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