Alabama Athletics

SEC men’s golf changes format to match NCAA Tournament

After being injured early in the year, Alabama’s Davis Riley playing No. 1

Alabama has done very well in the Southeastern Conference men’s golf tournament since it established its home at St. Simons Island, Ga., 17 years ago with the Crimson Tide having won four times there — more than any other SEC team.
Alabama has also done well in the NCAA Tournament since it changed its format to 54 holes of stroke play followed by two days of match play in the four-day tournament.
The Crimson Tide and the 13 other SEC teams begin play in this year’s tournament beginning Friday. All 14 SEC schools will compete in stroke play on the first two days, with 36 holes played on Friday and another 18 played on Saturday. The top-eight teams after stroke play will then advance to the match-play portion of the event. The quarterfinals will tee off Sunday morning and semifinals that same afternoon. The championship match will take place Monday.
The NCAA moved to match play for the national championship in 2009, but only two other conferences with automatic bids to the national tournament have instituted match play to decide their champions. Conference USA is now in its third season using the format, and the Sun Belt began using it last year.
Alabama, ranked 37th in the nation in Golfweek’s team rankings, is one of 11 SEC teams in the top-40. The Tide has finished in the top-five in four consecutive events leading up to the championships. The Crimson Tide will use the same lineup that finished second at the Mason Rudolph Championship and third at the Clemson Invitational.
Sophomore Davis Riley, who is ranked as the 74th-best golfer in the nation by Golfweek, will be at the No. 1 position for the Tide this weekend. After suffering an injury early in the season, Riley has been playing well as of late with three consecutive top-10 finishes entering this weekend’s tournament. He is tied for the team lead with a 71.50 stroke average and is third on the squad with a 0.20 average against par. Over his past three tournaments, Riley is a combined 11-under par and has shot a season-low 68 three times.
Junior Lee Hodges, who enters the event ranked No. 59 nationally by the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, is familiar with the match-play format in conference championships. He tied for third at Conference-USA’s championships as a freshman at UAB in 2015. Hodges, who will play at the No. 2 spot for the Tide, leads UA with four top-10 finishes and has scored par or better in 16 of his last 18 rounds. The Ardmore, Tenn., native is tied for the team lead in stroke average (71.50), thanks to his team-leading 11 rounds in the 60s – eight of which have come over his last 12 rounds overall.
Junior Johnathan Hardee will play the third spot for the Tide. In five tournaments this season, the Greer, S.C., native has finished in the top-20 four times. Hardee is averaging 71.60 strokes per round and is three-under par for the year. He leads the team in average vs. par (-0.20) and has counted 14 of 15 rounds to the team score. Hardee shot a season-low 69 in each of his past three tournaments.
At the fourth spot for the Tide will be Josh Sedeno, whose season to date was highlighted by a second-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship. Sedeno holds the lowest 54-hole total for the Tide this season after shooting a 9-under par 204 at the event. He’s been in the lineup for each of Alabama’s previous two outings, both top-five finishes.
Junior Steven Setterstrom, who is averaging 73.72 per round, will round out the Alabama’s lineup at the fifth position. Setterstrom has the lowest round of any Tide golfer this season after shooting a 67 in the second round of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.
Alabama will tee off the opening round Friday morning on Hole No. 1. Live scoring throughout the championship will be available on golfstat.com.


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