Alabama Dominates SEC Men's Golf Awards
Alabama Coach Jay Seawell was voted the SEC Coach of the Year by his coaching peers. In his sixth season at Alabama, Seawell has coached the Tide to six team tournament championships out of 10 tournaments played, including the 2008 SEC Team Championship. Seawell's Alabama team is ranked No. 1 in the nation and he's coached four different golfers to individual tournament championships this season.
"It feels great. I'm a little humbled about it honestly," said Seawell seconds after hearing the news of his award. "Good players make coaches look good and I've got good players, so if people think I'm the ‘Coach of the Year' it's because I've got great players and I'm happy to accept the award on behalf of them."
Among those who have claimed individual titles this season for Alabama are two men who were lauded by the league with its top honors on Monday. Senior Michael Thompson of Tucson, Ariz., was voted SEC Golfer of the Year. Thompson leads the league with his 70.00 stroke average in 24 rounds and is the 2008 SEC medalist, his first collegiate career victory in two seasons at Alabama but his fifth career collegiate win overall. He won four championships at Tulane before transferring to Alabama. Thompson is ranked among the top three in the nation in stroke average going into the week and has finished under par in six of the eight tournaments he's played in for Alabama this season. Thompson participated as an amateur at The Masters three weeks ago and last week was selected to represent the USA this summer on its Palmer Cup team. He will compete as an amateur in the U.S. Open in June. Thompson has finished among the top 10 individuals in every tournament he's competed in for Alabama this season and finished fourth in the Par Three Contest at The Masters. He finished T-4th at the 2007 NCAA Championships.
Joseph Sykora makes history as the SEC's first three-time winner of the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year award for men's golf. He won in 2006, 2007 and now 2008. The Daphne native maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA. He graduated from Alabama last May with a degree in accounting and is in graduate school working on his Masters Degree. Sykora is already a two-time ESPN Academic All-American in a category that includes athletes from several sports and is nominated again this year. Sykora has won two tournaments in his last two seasons at Alabama. He opened his senior season in September by winning the Topy Cup/USA vs. Japan tournament. Last year he set what was then the school record 199 to win the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. Sykora is the 2007 and 2005 State of Alabama Match Play Champion. Earlier this month he won the SEC's H.Boyd McWhorter SEC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year Award that encompasses males from every sport in the SEC and is considered the league's highest honor for a student-athlete.
Two more Crimson Tide golfers were named to the All-SEC team. Montgomery's Matthew Swan, a junior, was voted 1st Team All-SEC, joining Thompson. Senior Mark Harrell of Hazlehurst, Ga., was voted 2nd Team All-SEC. Both men won collegiate tournaments this season, Harrell as co-medalist at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate where he set the school's individual 54-hole record score at 198, and Swan as medalist at the Puerto Rico Classic. Harrell competed as an amateur in the June 2007 U.S. Open, missing the cut by just one stroke.
"Michael being ‘Player of the Year' is an awesome honor," said Seawell. "The SEC is the best conference in the country. I think it's well-deserved. I think he earned that. I think he solidified that with the 65 on Sunday (in the final round of the SEC Championships on April 20). So I'm really proud of him. And for Joseph to win the SEC Scholar Athlete three times in a row, that's phenomenal. I don't think that will ever be duplicated by anybody in our conference. Joseph, on the academic part, is just somebody special. He's basically Tiger Woods of the student-athlete. I'm really proud of him but also because he finished second in the SEC tournament. He's had a good year. He's not just book-smart, he's also a very talented player in this conference. And to have three guys make All-SEC I think just shows why we're pretty good. I think we could have had a couple more, too. I'm happy for Michael and for Matthew on the first team but I'm also happy for Mark. It's the first time he's made it. I think he's been on the line to make it every year, and he's deserved it before this year and I'm really happy that he finally got that before he got out of here. It's a great honor and I'm very proud of them all."
Georgia's Harris English was named the SEC Freshman of the Year. English, a native of Thomasville, Ga., claimed medalist honors in the Brickyard Championship and the Isleworth Collegiate in his second and third collegiate events. In both of those events, he set tournament scoring records - 11-under 205 at Isleworth and 12-under 204 at Brickyard. He finished the fall with a team-best 70.78 scoring average and currently stands with a 72.62 stroke average in 26 rounds.
Alabama's last and previously only SEC Golfer of the Year was Steve Lowery, now a PGA Tour player. Lowery won the league's top honor in 1982, the first year it was awarded, and repeated, winning it again in 1983. Seawell becomes Alabama's third different SEC Coach of the Year for men's golf, joining the late Conrad Rehling who won in 1979 and 1983 and Dick Spybey who won it in 1992. Last season Thompson, Gator Todd and Swan were voted All-SEC.
The 2008 SEC Men's Golf Awards are listed below, including first and second team All-SEC selections.
2008 SEC Men's Golf Awards
SEC COACH OF THE YEAR
Jay Seawell, Alabama
SEC SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Joseph Sykora, Sr., Alabama
SEC GOLFER OF THE YEAR
Michael Thompson, Sr., Alabama
SEC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Harris English, Georgia
Michael Thompson, Sr., Alabama
Billy Horschel, Jr., Florida
Adam Mitchell, Jr., Georgia
Jay Moseley, Sr., Auburn
George Bryan IV, So., South Carolina
Mark Anderson, Sr., South Carolina
Matthew Swan, Jr., Alabama
Hudson Swafford, So., Georgia
Manuel Villegas, Sr., Florida
Harris English, Fr., Georgia
Tyler Brown, Sr., Florida
Russell Henley, Fr., Georgia
Andrew Landry, Jr., Arkansas
Jesse Speirs, Jr., Ole Miss
Mark Harrell, Sr., Alabama
Andy Winings, Jr., Kentucky
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