Alabama went into this week’s Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters at Southern Highlands Golf Course in Las Vegas as the nation’s fourth-ranked team. Bama wasn’t the only good team in the tournament as it is one of the most prestigious college competitions in the nation. Nevertheless, the Crimson Tide’s 13th place finish was disappointing.
Alabama Coach Jay Seawell is not wringing his hands, though. Nothing can be done about the performance. But there are lessons to be learned from the experience.
First of all, it should not be lost on anyone that Alabama didn’t get its invitation to the tournament without having performed very well. The finish in Las Vegas does not take away from the fact that Seawell’s Crimson Tide had won three consecutive tournaments going into that competition, and Bama has the players t return to the winner’s circle in future tournaments.
“What makes this a great tournament is this course will teach you a lot of things,” Seawell said. “One of the things it taught us was humility. It is a very tough and unique course and we battled tough conditions throughout the week. It can be a challenge for young college players. We learned a lot of great things that will help us.
“I told the team after we finished that we played here in 2012 and finished ninth. We felt back then just like how we are feeling now and we ended that year playing for a national title. We have a lot to work on to get to that point, but we will get some great lessons from this tournament. The way we played is not our identity and we are excited to get back to work, learn from this tournament and get better as a team.”
The 15-team field featured nine teams ranked among the Golfweek Top 20, including five in the 10 and three in the top five.
Southern Cal, ranked No. 8 in the poll, captured the team title with a 5-over par 869. The Trojans won the tournament by four strokes over No. 2 Florida, who closed play with a team total of 873. Tenth-ranked Oklahoma (879) finished in third place overall, while No. 5 Texas (882) and No. 14 Arizona State (882) rounded out the top five tied for fourth place. Top-ranked Illinois closed play tied for eighth at 887.
Three Alabama golfers finished among the top 25, led by senior Tom Lovelady, who tied for 19th place with a three-day total of 5-over par 221 (73-72-76).
Junior Robby Shelton, who was coming off medalist honors at the previous week’s Puerto Rico Classic and was the reigning individual champion from last year’s Southern Highlands Collegiate, closed play in 25th with a a very uncharacteristic 222 (75-74-73). Freshman Davis Riley had two rounds of par as he tied Shelton in 25th place with a 222 (72-78-72).
Sophomore Jonathan Hardee tied for 56th place at 229 (74-77-78), while junior Robby Prater rounded out the Tide in 75th with a 241 (77-82-82).
Alabama will return to the links next weekend when it competes at the Linger Longer Invitational on March 20-22 in Greensboro, Ga.