Alabama Golf Team Wins Another Title
Alabama successfully defended its 2007 John Hayt Collegiate Invitational Championship by winning it again in 2008. Alabama, ranked No. 2 in the Golf Week/Sagarin rankings and No. 3 in the Golf World Nike Coaches' rankings, shot 290-293-290/873 to finish 9-over par and best the field of 15 teams. It was the third tournament this season, of three possible, where Alabama returned as the defending team champion and the third time it successfully defended its 2007 title. Alabama won four tournament championships last season and returned to play in three of those, winning the Carpet Capital, the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and now the John Hayt. The Hayt was Alabama's spring season opener.
"Sawgrass is always fantastic," said Alabama golf coach Jay Seawell whose Crimson Tide teams have won seven team championships in its last 17 tournaments. "Every year I come here this tournament gets better. To be able to come up the 18th fairway and see all of the people around the green, that tells you this is a big time tournament. It's an honor to have this trophy again."
It was Alabama's fifth stroke-play tournament this season, giving it three tournament championships, one second place and a third-place finish since the team opened the season at Japan's Topy Cup on September 4.
Sawgrass Country Club, par 72, was the site of the 2008 John Hayt Collegiate. Play began on Sunday for the three-day tournament. Alabama won by four shots ahead of UCLA. The Crimson Tide shot 2-over par, 290, in Tuesday's final round. UCLA shot 1-over Tuesday to finish 13-over for the tournament (295-293-289/877). Tied at third were team tournament host North Florida and Tennessee (886). Charlotte, which went into the tournament having won all four of its stroke play events in the fall, finished T-5th with Florida (889). UAB and Coastal Carolina finished in a T-7th (893). Pepperdine and Georgia State finished T-9th (894). South Carolina finished 11th (895), Indiana 12th (900), T-13th Central Florida and Vanderbilt (901) and at 15th Notre Dame (903).
Georgia State's Joel Sjoholm held on to his lead all three rounds to win the individual championship at 7-under par. He shot 2-under par in the final round to score 69-70-70/209 for the win. He finished five shots ahead of three men who tied for second, UCLA's Jason Kang, North Florida's Michael O'Neal and Florida's Will Strickler who all finished T-2nd at 2-under.
Six strokes back from the winner and T-5th with one another were a pair of Alabama golfers, Thompson and Mark Harrell, both of whom shot even par in the final round to finish at 1-under for the tournament. Thompson shot 72-71-72/215 and Harrell shot 72-71-72/215. Thompson has finished among the top five individuals in all four of his stroke play tournaments this season. It was Harrell's second top five finish this season as he was co-champion of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate in the fall.
Matthew Swan, who was in 47th place after the first round, finished T-21st, shooting 2-under in his final round for Alabama. Swan shot 76-76-70/222. Matt Hughes and Joseph Sykora finished T-38th, with Hughes shooting 75-75-76/226 and Sykora shooting 71-77-78/226 for the Tide.
Alabama, which bettered its 2007 John Hayt team scored by 10 strokes, makes its next appearance at the February 29-March 2 Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Mar Beach, P.R.
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