Alabama Men’s Golf Team Defending Title

Alabama is off to another prestigious men’s college golf tournament this weekend, and the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini offers the opportunity to see the two teams that fought it out for last year’s national championship and the current co-number one teams in the nation.

A year ago Alabama won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini tournament in the fall and then in late spring defeated Oklahoma State in a dramatic final round of the NCAA Championship Tournament. This year Bama and the Cowboys are co-number one and headline the tournament being played in Champaign, Ill., Friday-Sunday.

The tournament will be held at the famed Olympia Field Country Club North Course, a 7,142-yard, par-70 course that has hosted two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, five Western Opens, and a U.S. Senior Open among other high-level tournaments.

The Crimson Tide won the 2013 OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational, with Robby Shelton sharing medalist honors with Stanford's Cameron Wilson. Alabama won last year’s event in commanding fashion with an 18-shot victory over the field. Shelton captured medalist honors in what was his first tournament with the Tide, carding an even par 210 during the 54-hole event.

This year, Shelton will highlight the Tide’s lineup five-man lineup, which also includes junior Tom Lovelady, sophomores Dru Love and Robby Prater, and freshman Jonathan Hardee. Prater will begin Tide’s opening 18 holes when he tees off hole No. 1 at 9:45 a.m. CT.

Bama, of course, is missing some weapons from last year’s national championship team, which was Alabama’s second consecutive national championship. The seniors on that team included Bobby Wyatt, Cory Whitsett, and Trey Mullinax.

Additionally, Coach Jay Seawell’s Crimson Tide team will be playing without Gavin Moynihan, who is participating in an international amateur tournament in Japan.

This year’s tournament boasts another competitive field, featuring 10 of the 15 schools who are ranked among the nation’s top-25 teams in the 2014 Golf Coaches Association of American Preseason Top-25 poll.

In addition to Alabama and Oklahoma State, which share the number one position, the tournament includes No. 4 Texas, No. 7 Stanford, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 17 Florida State, No. 19 Texas A&M, No. 21 Arkansas and No. 23 Virginia Tech. Also in the tournament are Baylor and Colorado, both of which received votes in the GCAA preseason poll, Connecticut, Indiana, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, in Karuizawa, Japan, Alabama sophomore Gavin Moynihan played his second consecutive bogey-free round on Thursday, as he continues competing for his native country of Ireland at the World Amateur Championship.

After 36 holes of the event, Moynihan is at 4-under par 139 (69-70) and is one of only a handful of golfers in the event to not record a bogey or worse on the par 72, 7,008-yard Iriyama Golf Course in Karuisawa, Japan. He comes into the final round in a tie for 38th overall, recording 32 pars and four birdies of the two days of golf.

As a country, Ireland is in a tie for 18th overall at 10-under par (276) in a field that features 48 countries from around the world. Each nation is represented with three players, with the low two scorers counting toward the team total.

Gary Hurley’s 6-under par leads the Irish, followed by Moynihan’s 4-under total. Paul Dunne (-3) is one stroke behind Moynihan to round out the team.

The third and final round will be played on Friday morning. Moynihan will return to Tuscaloosa following the event and will be eligible to compete for the Crimson Tide upon his return.

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