Tide On Track To Battle For National Title

Last season The University of Alabama men's golf team won four tournament championships. So far this season it has returned to the scene of two of those wins. Both times the Crimson Tide has successfully defended its championship. In 2006-07, Bama rode its fall success to a number one national ranking. Thus far this season Bama is ranked second in the nation.

Tuesday afternoon marked the second of those back-to-back year tournament victories when Alabama ran away with the championship of its own Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, a tournament that comes complete with a field of 12, most of those teams of which are ranked among the Top 25. It is named in honor of former Tide golfer Jerry Pate who currently plays on the PGA Champions Tour and was on hand all weekend for the event.

After setting a school 54-hole record to win the 2006 tournament last fall at 33-under par, Alabama shattered the tournament's record and school 54-hole record Tuesday by finishing 42-under par, shooting 810 to win at Birmingham's Old Overton Club. The Tide shot 270-268-272/810 to finish 17 shots ahead of UAB who finished second at 827 which is 25-under par. It is only the second time Alabama has won the tournament's championship, last season being the first, in this decades old event which annually brings together many of the nation's top-ranked teams.

Alabama, which produced the 2006 JPNI medalist in Joseph Sykora, produced the co-winner in 2007 as senior Mark Harrell finished 15-under par, 198, also a school 54-hole record, to win. Harrell bettered Sykora's school record of 199 that he shot to win in 2006. Harrell shared medalist honors on Tuesday with East Tennessee State's Seamus Power (65-66-67/198). It was the first collegiate championship for Harrell, the Hazlehurst, Ga., native who won the stroke play at the Pub Links this past summer.

"It's a good feeling because this is my fourth year, and to finally win a tournament is a lot of fun," said Harrell who aced No. 17 with a hole-in-one in the second round on Monday and shot 66-64-68/198 to share the win. "But I'm proud of the team. We played awesome. Against a field like this, to defend two years in a row is fun."

Alabama won the Carpet Capital Classic on September 16, a tournament it also won in the fall of 2006.

Three Alabama golfers finished among the top ten Tuesday. All-American and 2007 U.S. Amateur finalist Michael Thompson shot 67-67-66/200 to finish 13-under par and in a tie with Florida's Billy Horschel. And Matt Hughes finished T-9th after shooting 67-66-72/205 which is 8-under on the par 71 course at Old Overton Club.

Gator Todd finished T-31st, shooting 70-71-73/214 and Sykora finished T-37th, firing 5-under in the final round and carding 75-74-66/215 for the tournament.

"It's special because it has Mr. Pate's name on it. It's close to home. We host it, and to come here and beat this field and play the way we did today, it's a good feeling," said Alabama head coach Jay Seawell who collected his sixth team tournament championship in 17 tournaments since the fall 2006 opener. "They golfed their ball, that's for sure. Mark was fabulous all week. He led us. I'm so proud of him. When we weren't very good, he was one of the first to jump on board and be a part of University of Alabama golf, and I'm so proud of that. I think we broke the tournament record by eight shots today, so, 42-under par for the tournament is pretty good. I'm very proud of our team and what they did here."

In the final team standings, Alabama led, shooting 270-268-272/810 followed by UAB 827, UNLV 829, Auburn 830, Florida 831, North Carolina 832, Texas Tech and Georgia State 845, Texas 848, East Tennessee State 850, Brigham Young 854 and Georgia Southern 870.

Alabama has one more tournament remaining on its fall golf schedule. It will play in the October 28-30 Callaway Golf Match Play in Lake Oconee, Ga.

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