Tiders Pass Test

Gator Todd and Mark Harrell will make their first NCAA Golf Championships appearance on Thursday when the University of Alabama joins a field of 27 teams at the NCAA East Regional in Nashville. But before the two Crimson Tide true freshmen joined their teammates in the team's motor home Tuesday afternoon to head to Nashville, they made an important detour.

On Tuesday morning Alabama golfers Gator Todd and Mark Harrell played in a U.S. Open qualifying event at Old Overton Club in Birmingham. That field included men who will play in this weekend's PGA Champions Tour Bruno's Memorial Classic.

It was a successful diversion for the Tide golfers. The two were among the seven men who made it through the first stage from that qualifier. Harrell finished second, carding 67. Todd, son for former Tide and NFL quarterback Richard Todd, advanced in more dramatic fashion. He took the seventh and last remaining spot by winning a one-hole playoff. Todd shot 69, defeating four-time Alabama Open champion Todd Bailey.

R.W. Eaks, who is in Birmingham this week to play in the Bruno's Memorial Classic, led all qualifiers with his seven-under-par 64. The other four men who advanced to the second stage from the Old Overton qualifier include Bradley Johnson (67), Daniel Ozley (67), V.J. Trolio (68) and Patrick Damron (68).

A record 9,048 entries around the country were made for qualifying for the 2005 U.S. Open which will be held at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club June 16-19. Local qualifiers, such as the one where Bama's golfing duo advanced, are held May 11-23 around the country. Sectionals are June 6-7.

Meanwhile, Todd and Harrell have set their more immediate sights on their Alabama team play. Should Alabama finish among the Top 10 at the NCAA East Regional this weekend it will advance to the May 31 – June 3 NCAA team finals in Owings Mill, Md.

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