The Alabama men’s golf team finished in third at the NCAA Men’s Golf Tuscaloosa Regional as five Southeastern Conference teams advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament May 27-June 1 at the Eugene (Oregon) Country Club.
Alabama had a 54-hole score of 7-under par 857 (292-284-281).
SEC champion Georgia claimed the regional victory with a team total of 16-under par 848. South Carolina, ranked No. 17 in the nation, finished second at 12-under par 852. Following Alabama, No. 32 Kentucky placed fourth with a team score of 6-under 858, while Auburn rounded out the top five with an 867. Nine SEC teams advanced to the NCAA National Championships from the six regional tournaments.
Alabama, which has now reached nationals in eight of the last 10 years, will be aiming for its third NCAA team title after claiming the crown jewel in 2013 and 2014. The Tide also finished national runners-up in 2012.
It marks the 18th time in program history the men’s golf team will advance to the national championships and the ninth time it has happened under Coach Jay Seawell.
“It’s great that we are advancing to nationals and I am very happy for our team,” Seawell said. “Our preparation over the last two weeks has been really good and as a coach, you love to see that. I told the guys that we need to play how we practiced. We tried to relax them with their preparation and I think our guys did a really good job with that.
“The course was great and Ol’ Colony has done a phenomenal job getting it ready for this event, but it made it different than any other time we’ve played it. It made us very tentative the first few holes in the first round, but after that, I thought we played great.
“I am very proud of our university, the Ol’ Colony staff, all the volunteers and the city of Tuscaloosa. You dream this and it is exactly what I believed it to be. It means a great deal.”
Alabama was led by freshman Davis Riley, who tied for fourth overall with a three-day total of 6-under par 210. After recording an opening round of 2-over 74, the Hattiesburg, Miss., native responded with a career-low tying 5-under par 67 on Tuesday followed by 3-under par 69 on Wednesday to result in his second-lowest 54-hole total of the season.
Riley finished second in the field with 16 total birdies and was fifth in par 4 scoring average (3.83, -5).
“I played really well the first day but stumbled in a bit to end the round,” Riley said. “I thought I played very well (Tuesday) and today I didn’t finish so hot, but it was a good week overall. It was nice to play well here at home and in front of our fans.”
Junior Robby Shelton carded a three-day total of 1-under par 215 (71-74-70) and tied for 10th. It marked his 23rd time in his career (out of 33 events) that Shelton finished in the top 10, while it marked his 18th career tournament he finished at under par.
Senior Tom Lovelady had a stellar final round, closing the event with 3-under 69 to finish tied for 14th at even par 216 (75-72-69). Lovelady was consistent throughout the tournament as he led all individuals in par 3 scoring (2.67, -4) and was second in par 5 scoring (4.42, -7).
Junior Dru Love tied for 21st with a 3-over par 219 (74-72-73), while sophomore Jonathan Hardee rounded out the Tide in 24th place with a 220 (73-73-74).
William Rainey from College of Charleston will also advance to nationals from the Tuscaloosa Regional as the highest finisher from a non-qualifying team. Rainey closed the event with a 7-under par 209 to place third overall, two strokes behind Georgia’s Greyson Sigg, medalist with a 9-under 207.