The No. 7 Alabama men’s golf team split its two matches at The FarmLinks Collegiate Match Play event on Saturday and finished in third place at the one day, 36-hole event. The Crimson Tide fell by a tiebreaker in the first semifinal vs. No. 11 Auburn before defeating No. 39 Georgia Tech in the consolation round at the par 72, 7,444-yard FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga.
“This was a new event and was something that (Vanderbilt Coach) Scott Limbaugh and I put together in the winter,” Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said. “We had some competition days available and Scott found the FarmLinks course. You can’t practice what we were able to do today in terms of playing a match play competition – it’s totally different than stroke play.”
The Crimson Tide opened the semifinal round Saturday morning against No. 11 Auburn, with each team winning three individual matches. Alabama’s Tom Lovelady (3&2 over Will Long), Jonathan Hardee 2&1 over Jake Mondy) and Davis Riley (1UP over Jacob Solomon) were all victorious in the morning semifinal. However, Michael Johnson defeated Robby Shelton 3&1, Matt Gilchrest defeated Dru Love 3&2 and Ben Schlottman defeated Steven Setterstrom 2&1.
With the teams tied, the winner was decided on the first tiebreak which was total holes won. Auburn's 8-6 margin of victory resulted in the Tide falling into the consolation bracket against Georgia Tech, who fell to No. 6 Vanderbilt 4-1-1 in its semifinal.
Against the Yellow Jackets, Shelton defeated Vincent Whaley 1UP, Riley defeated Tyler Joiner 4&3 and Love defeated M Hines 3&1, while Hardee and Jacob Joiner finished all square. Lovelady (1UP to Chris Petefish) and Setterstrom (3&1 to James Clark) dropped their matches, but Alabama walked away with the 3-2-1 victory.
Vanderbilt claimed the title with a 4-1-1 victory over Auburn in the afternoon round.
“You never want to get ahead of yourself but it was great to be able to introduce our players to match play just in case you have a chance to reach that part of the NCAA Championship,” Seawell said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win enough holes in the morning round but we were able to come back and play well in the afternoon. We all learned a great deal and we will be a better team because of it.”
The Tide closes out the regular season next weekend at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tenn., before heading to the SEC Championships April 15-17 at the Sea Island Golf Course in Sea Island, Ga.