Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide fights back for a fourth-place finish

Despite a shaky start in the opening round, the Alabama men’s golf team clawed its way to a top-five finish, posting a 31-over-par total of 895 to finish fourth at the John Hyat Collegiate Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Beleaguered by the first 18 holes, the Crimson Tide struggled to a 19-over-par round-one total of 307 at the Sawgrass Country Club, leaving them near the bottom of the 15-team field in a tie for 10th place.

Head coach Jay Seawell said one of the struggles all season has been the mindset of the team heading into the first round.

“When you get that far behind, there is just not much you can do,” Seawell said. “You put yourself into a position where you have to play a perfect round from that point on, and there’s really just no such thing. You have to be within striking distance of the leaders to have a chance.

“Our team has got to become more mentally tough and learn how to handle adversity.”

The Tide took advantage of optimal scoring conditions in round two and battled back, climbing to eighth place after firing the low round of the day, a 3-over-par total of 291. Helping to pull the Tide into contention was sophomore All-American Bud Cauley, who tallied a 3-under-par score of 69, the only Tide golfer to record a round in the 60s. Cauley finished in a tie for 10th place, landing him his fourth top-10 finish of the 2009-2010 season. He carded rounds of 78, 69 and 72, for a three-day total of 219(+3).

Following a final-round showing of 297(+9), the Tide catapulted four spots up the leaderboard to a fourth-place finish.

Steady play by Scott Strohmeyer and Lee Knox, both redshirt freshmen, helped to lift the Tide through the rankings during the final 36 holes.

Strohmeyer fired rounds of 74, 75 and 77 to finish 10-over par for the tournament to tie for 27th place. Knox finished tied for 42nd at 13-over par, after shooting rounds of 75, 80 and 74.

“Coach Seawell trusts us to go out and compete,” Knox said. “He knows we have the caliber team to win golf tournaments, so we just kept fighting back, and we were able to get a top-five finish.”

The Tide will enjoy a few weeks off before returning to action in Statesboro, Ga., where they will compete in the Schenkel E-Z-Go Tournament March 19-21.

The Tide didn’t compete in this tournament last season, but Seawell said Alabama is looking forward to some southern hospitality.

“I have been many, many times, and it’s truly one of the best tournaments of the year,” he said.

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