Bama Plays Monday

The defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs headline the field of 12 teams, nine of which are ranked in the Top 25, that will gather in Birmingham this weekend for the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.

The 2005 JPNI will be held October 10-11 at Birmingham's Old Overton Club. Following a practice round on Sunday, the teams will play the first two rounds, 36 holes, on Monday and will play the final round on Tuesday. This year's field includes No. 1 ranked Georgia, No. 6 Georgia Tech, No. 7 Brigham Young, two teams tied for No. 15 Augusta State and TCU, two teams tied at No. 17 host Alabama and Clemson, No. 20 Auburn and No. 22 Arizona. Rounding out the field are UAB, Tulsa and Vanderbilt where 2004 U.S. Amateur runner-up Luke List is now a junior on the golf team.

"Year in and year out, this is one of the top fields in the country," said Alabama golf coach Jay Seawell whose own team includes five golfers who have competed in the U.S. Amateur. "First of all to be a part of or hosting such an event anywhere is fantastic, especially so to be playing it here at Alabama and with Mr. Pate's name. I think it's a tournament that college coaches and players look forward to playing in year in and year out. And it's great for the University of Alabama and the golf program here to be part of something with such a tradition."

The tournament is named after University of Alabama graduate and former Tide golfer Jerry Pate who won the both the World Amateur and the U.S. Amateur as a Crimson Tide golfer in 1974. As a PGA professional his titles included the U.S. Open and the Players Championship. Pate, who is currently playing on the PGA's Champions Tour, is instrumental in running the event which annually contributes some $20,000 to charities. It has been held at Old Overton Club since 1997 and dates to 1986. Past participants include Tiger Woods who won the JPNI his freshman season at Stanford in 1994.

Alabama, ranked No. 17 in the Golf Coaches Association of America rankings, will be represented by Mark Harrell, Matthew Swan and Joseph Sykora. Its final two spots will be determined later in the week after the team finishes its qualifier.

Last year, competing against a field full of All-Americans, Harrell, then a freshman, finished third at seven under par, shooting 66-70-70/206 on the par 71 course. Augusta State, powered by Kalle Edberg's 10-under par score (68-69-66/203), won the championship (275-278-272/825) four strokes ahead of Georgia Tech. Alabama finished sixth (272-282-285/839).

"Last year we actually competed for the first time in a while. We're tired of just hosting the thing. We'd like to compete in it, and last year we did. We were a really young team then, and it was a great experience for a young team. They also realized how good you have to play if you want to win the Jerry Pate. So we are going in there with some excitement and some enthusiasm but we also realize how good you have to be if you want to beat the Georgia's of the world."

The public is invited to attend the tournament. There is no charge.

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