The Alabama men’s golf team did what it had to do to be rewarded with a milkshake Wednesday in the NCAA Regional at Sammamish, Wash. That meant firing the low round of the day in the tournament, a 2-under-par 282.
And that was also good enough to propel the Crimson Tide of Coach Jay Seawell to a tie for third place with a 54-hole total of 10-over-par 862 (293-297-282) and into the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship Tournament next week at Rich Harvest Farms course in Sugar Grove, Ill.
It is the 19th time in program history and 10th time under Seawell the Crimson Tide has advanced to the national championship tournament.
The top five teams in each of six national regional tournaments advanced to nationals.
Alabama, ranked 26th in the nation and the No. 6 seed in the Washington Regional, was in fifth place and only a stroke ahead of home-standing Washington going into the final round.
“It means a great deal to take this team to nationals,” Seawell said. “One of the things we talked about as a team [Tuesday] night was that every time they have had their backs against the wall, which has been most of the year, they have always responded. That’s a credit to all five of our guys here, as well as the ones who aren’t with us. They never panicked at a time it’s very easy to panic. They have answered the bell every time, including today, and I am just very proud of them.”
Alabama reached this year’s nationals on the strength of not only its best round of the regional, but the 282 was also lowest team score in the entire field on Wednesday. Three Tide golfers shot below par in the third and final round, including Lee Hodges (3-under 68), Josh Sedeno (2-under 69) and Davis Riley (1-under 70).
“It’s been a long-standing tradition that any time you win the day, you get a milkshake,” Seawell said. “Our guys knew that and that’s one of the first things they mentioned after we realized we had the low round. On a day that is nerve-racking, it’s tense and to go out there and play that kind of golf on a tough course makes me very proud of our guys. They deserve a large milkshake – probably a cookies and cream one tonight.”
Alabama, which claimed the NCAA title in 2013 and 2014, will be making its eighth NCAA National Championship appearance in the last 10 years.
Hodges led the Tide as he tied for eighth overall which marked his team-leading fifth top-10 finish of the season. The junior from Ardmore, Tenn., carded a 1-under par 212 (71-73-68) for the tournament. Hodges, who now has a team-best 13 rounds this season in the 60s following his final round of 68, recorded a team-leading five birdies and just a pair of bogeys on Wednesday.
Riley tied for 17th overall with a three-day total of 3-over par 216 (73-73-70) on the 6,885-yard, par 71 Aldarra Golf Course. It was Riley’s seventh top-25 finish in the eight tournaments he has played this year. Meanwhile, junior Steven Setterstrom tied for 22nd overall – his second-best finish in a tournament this season – carding a three-round total of 5-over par 218 (68-75-75) to give the Tide three golfers among the Regional’s top-25 finishers.
Sedeno, a redshirt freshman, rebounded from a 9-over par 80 in Tuesday’s second round with his 69 on Wednesday. He finished the event tied for 40th at 224 (75-80-69). Junior Jonathan Hardee rounded out the Crimson Tide golfers, as he tied for 47th with a 227 (71-76-80).
Top-ranked USC claimed the Washington Regional title with a 3-under par 849, finishing 12 strokes ahead of No. 12 Kent State (855). Alabama tied No. 24 Florida State for third, while Penn State (863) placed fifth to also earn a spot at nationals.
The Tide will fly back to Tuscaloosa on Thursday before beginning preparations for next week’s championships.
“We are going to get back to Tuscaloosa late Thursday night,” Seawell said. “I am going to give them the weekend off and we will begin with some preparation work on Monday and Tuesday before flying out to Chicago on Tuesday with the thought of hopefully being able to watch our women’s team playing for a national title on Wednesday.”