Saban Not Looking At Thompson

The number two ranked University of Alabama men's golf team will head to this weekend's Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championships without the nation's number one ranked U.S. amateur golfer, senior Michael Thompson.



Alabama golf star Michael Thompson broke his left hand ring finger this past weekend when he was outside with friends tossing a football. He is expected to be out four to six weeks.

He should be ready to play again by the time the team re-convenes for spring practice in January and goes to defend its 2007 championship at the February 17-19, 2008 John Hayt Intercollegiate.

Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said, "I'd like for him to be able to play this week but he's played a lot of golf in the last six to eight months. Really, he needs a break and this is going to make him take a break which will be good. It'll get him mentally ready for next year.

"I hate to see that happen. It's a freak accident. He can't catch a football, that's for sure. Nick Saban is not going to be calling him. We've determined that."

The injury will cause Thompson to miss Alabama's final fall tournament. The Crimson Tide, winner of two of its four tournaments played so far this fall, makes its fifth and final appearance Sunday through Tuesday at the match play championships before putting up the clubs for the winter. Alabama is seeded second at the match play championships among a field where the 16 teams are all ranked, including number one ranked Charlotte, winner of all three of its fall tournaments so far this season.

Alabama will open play Sunday against Georgia State, coached by former Tide golfer and Seawell's former Tide assistant coach, Matt Clark.

"I'm looking forward to having head-up with Coach Clark, a former assistant of mine," said Seawell who talked to Clark earlier in the week when the pairings were announced. "I told him to take it easy on us and I think he said the same thing, so we'll see how it goes. But it'll be fun for Matt and me."

Representing Alabama will be six golfers, one more than the team typically takes for a trip. The team includes Mark Harrell, Matt Hughes, Joseph Sykora, Gator Todd, Stewart Whitt and Ben Moody. The tournament marks the first official team play for Moody, a Tuscaloosa native who is the son of former Tide Women's Basketball Coach Rick Moody.

"We get to take six players because you can change in between rounds," said Seawell of the format that allows every team to play a minimum of two matches. "We'll play five. The numbers stay the same. It's still five against five, but you get to take an extra guy and you can sub in. It's one of the few times in golf that you get to do that which is great."

The winner of the Alabama vs. Georgia State match will play the winner between seventh-seed Florida State and tenth-seeded South Carolina.

In the first round, Charlotte takes on No. 16 Coastal Carolina; No. 8 Duke vs. No. 9 Florida; No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Minnesota, No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Tennessee; No. 3 Georgia Tech vs. No. 14 Texas; No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Lamar; No. 7 Florida State vs. No. 10 South Carolina and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Georgia State.

"It's extremely fun because it's different," said Seawell of the format which veers from the traditional stroke play tournaments. "It's relaxed. It counts. You're still trying to beat people, but it's in a different format, so it's not as much pressure. I actually like how the guys are looking right now. They seem to be very relaxed but looking forward to it because it is something different. It's not the same old stuff each week.

Still the Tide is going up against a field where 16 of the teams finished among the top 17 at the 2007 NCAA championships.

"You're playing the best against the best. In each match, everybody is beatable. But I do like the format when you play man against man. One against one, two against two. It's not total scores, it's match play. It's not medal play, so that's something different. Each guy has got to beat his guy. It doesn't matter what he shoots. We talked about that. You can shoot 80 as long as you make a par on the hole and he makes a bogey. If he makes a nine and you make an eight, that's all that matters. So I do like that because I think it's a great way to bring out competitive spirits in each kid but you're doing it for your team. So it's a great format and we're looking forward to being part of it."

Alabama won both the Carpet Capital Collegiate and the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate this fall, two tournaments it won in the fall of 2006. It finished second at Japan's Topy Cup in the season opener and finished fourth of 15 teams at the Golf Week/Ping Preview. The Callaway Golf Match Play Championships are held at Reynolds Plantation in Lake Oconee, Ga. Golf fans can follow the tournament's play live on the internet on www.golfstat.com.

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