Robby Shelton finished his junior season tied for sixth individually in the NCAA Tournament and, as expected, that was also the end of Shelton’s Alabama golf career. Following his four-day total of 1-over-par 281 (70-66-72-73), he announced Sunday evening that he would turn professional.
“I want to thank everyone out there,” Shelton said following his final round of 3-over par 73. “I especially want to thank coach (Jay) Seawell, coach (Jon) Howell and my teammates. It’s been the best three years of my life and it’s very emotional for me. I feel I will always be a part of the Crimson Tide family.”
“I enjoyed this last walk with Robby,” Seawell said. “He’s simply a phenomenal player. I thought he played really well and had just one hiccup which came on the 10th hole when he just got out of position and couldn’t get back and made a double. His putter was ice cold, but that was par for what happened to us as a team this week.
“I am just so proud of Robby and the way he handled himself. He’s a class young man who I’ve had the fortune of coaching. I’ve watched him since he was a little kid at 13 years old. When he hit his drive on 18 right down the middle, he turned to me and said ‘thank you.’ We had some tears at that point. I am just truly thankful. He’s a champion and I think he represents what The University of Alabama is all about.”
Shelton struggled from the start, as the players had to battle gusty winds throughout the afternoon round.
Following a bogey on the second hole, Shelton sank a 15-foot putt for an eagle on the fourth hole and looked to have momentum in his favor. However, he bogeyed each of the next two holes and could never recover. Despite a double bogey on the par 4 10th hole, Shelton had several makeable birdie putts, but could not get them to fall.
“It was a tough round for sure,” Shelton said. “I was 1-over par through the first three holes, then I got an eagle on the fourth hole which created some excitement, I guess. But after that, I couldn’t make a putt. It stinks that’s how it went today, but I just couldn’t make a putt. Despite that, it was a fun round and having Coach Seawell with me throughout was a great experience. Walking down the 18th fairway, both coach Seawell and I were emotional. It was a special moment.”
Shelton’s 72-hole total of 281 ranks second in school history, trailing only former standout Michael Thompson’s 5-under 275 at the 2007 NCAA Championships. It is also his second top-10 finish at an NCAA Championship (finished tied for third in 2014).
Shelton had an outstanding week, which included a streak of 33 consecutive holes without a bogey that spanned from his ninth hole on Friday’s opening round to the sixth hole of Sunday’s third round. He carded a bogey-free round of 66 on Saturday and is the only player in the field to play an entire round without recording a bogey.
Shelton leaves the program with a school record seven victories, including three this season. He also owns Alabama career records in stroke average (70.44) and average vs. par (-0.72), while his 67 career rounds of par or better (out of 103 total rounds played) rank third in program history. He owns three of the four lowest single-season scoring averages in Alabama records.
In 34 career tournaments, Shelton had 19 top-five finishes and 30 top-20 results.