The Alabama golf team placed three men in the top 12 of the Linger Longer Invitational in Greensboro, Ga., and won its fourth championship in the last five tournaments of the season Tuesday. The seventh-ranked Crimson Tide finished the 54-hole tournament at 12-under-par 852.
Alabama had three players among the top 12, including a pair of top-10 finishers in junior Robby Shelton and freshman Davis Riley on the 7,073-yard, par-72 Great Waters Golf Club at Reynolds Lake Oconee course.
Shelton had a final round 3-under par 69 to finish with a three-day total of 5-under par 211 (70-72-69). It marks his fifth top-10 finish (in six tournaments) this season and the 22nd top-10 result in 30 career tournaments.
Riley finished seventh at 4-under par 212 (70-71-71). Riley recorded his fourth top-10 finish in his seven tournaments. He led the field in par five scoring (-9, 4.25) and tied for second in total number of birdies (15) and eagles (2) for the week.
Senior Tom Lovelady closed with a 2-under par 214 (70-70-74). It’s his fifth top-20 finish (in eight tournaments) this season,
Junior Dru Love played his best round of the tournament with a 1-under par 71 on Tuesday, as he tied for 27th overall with a 3-over 219 (76-72-71), Sophomore Jonathan Hardee rounded out the Tide in 56th overall with a 227 (72-80-75).
Sophomore Tyler Hitchner, who competed as an individual, tied for 18th with a 1-over par 217 (73-71-73).
“I think our depth is why we were able to win this tournament,” Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said. “Our guys did a really good job of backing up each other when one of them may have been struggling. If you’re going to be a great team, you have to have depth. You can’t really be just a one or two man team and just hope everyone else hangs in there. It just creates a trust factor with one another. I thought we did a really good job of having all of our guys close enough for their scores to count each day. It keeps everybody energized.”
Alabama claimed the championship by four strokes over No. 3 Georgia and No. 47 Augusta State, who tied for second with 9-under par 855. The Bulldogs made a push to overtake the Tide, as they collected the low round of the tournament with a 12-under par 276, but it was not enough to overcome Alabama’s steady play throughout the week. Virginia, ranked No. 22 in the nation, finished in fourth with an 861, while tournament host Kennesaw State rounded out the top five teams with an 866.
“We got off to a great start today, but had a little hiccup in the middle of the round,” Seawell said. “I am really proud of how we overcame that. Sometimes on the last day, when things aren’t going as you had hoped, it’s easy to have the negative momentum last too long. Our guys did a really good job of staying in the moment and finding a way to earn a victory, which I am very proud of.”
The victory was the fourth time in the last six years that the Alabama men’s golf team claimed the Linger Longer tournament title, achieving the feat in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This year’s title was aided by the Tide leading the field in par 5 average (4.52 strokes per par 5), while ranking second among the 13-team field in total number of birdies (60) and eagles (4).
The Crimson Tide will return to action when it travels to Sylacauga to compete at the FarmLinks Collegiate Match Play event on Saturday. Alabama will open the event against No. 10 Auburn in one semifinal, with the other semifinal pitting No. 6 Vanderbilt against No. 21 Georgia Tech in a match play format. The winners of each semifinal will then meet for the championship, with the losers moving on to play for the consolation. The event, which is free to the public, will be played at the FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms.