Alabama golf falls short at national championships


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama golfer Jonathan Griz hits from a fairway bunker during day four of the NCAA Championship Finals on May 29 at Grayhawk Golf Club – Raptor Course in Scottsdale, AZ.

Bella Martina, Assistant Sports Editor

Alabama golf faced its final tournament of the year at the 2023 NCAA national championship in Scottsdale, Arizona. The No. 15-ranked team teed off on Friday, May 26, with the lineup including Canon Claycomb, Nick Dunlap, Thomas Ponder, Jonathan Griz and JP Cave. 

This was Alabama’s 21st appearance at the national championship, yet they have not brought home a title since 2014.

Dunlap started off round one strong with a 3 under par and tied fourth overall. His teammates Ponder and Claycomb also brought the heat with several birdies to start off. Ponder made back-to-back birdies on holes 2-4, and Claycomb shot four birdies, which completed his score of even par. 

The Tide ended day one tied in 17th place with a team score of 10 over par 290, holding on strong for day two. 

Ponder carded an even par on the front nine for his second day, Saturday, along with three birdies from Dunlap, two from Griz and one from both Claycomb and Cave. Three players — Claycomb, Dunlap and Griz — ended day two in the top 25 individual players. The trio all shot par or better, helping the Tide move up for day three. 

“I’m really proud of especially this afternoon,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “We’ll see where we are at the end of the day, but I feel really comfortable that we’ll be in that top 15, and that’s what you’re trying to do for that round three.” 

Alabama shot 2 over par 282 headed into day three, Sunday and moved up eight spots on the leaderboard, putting them in the top 10. 

Day three dropped the Tide back into the top 15 for their upcoming round. However, Dunlap shone with six birdies and carded 4 under par 66 for Sunday’s game. 

“I played really solid. I thought I played great yesterday, I hit 17 greens yesterday, kind of [the] same mentality, I was going to kind of hit as many fairways and greens as possible,” Dunlap said about his day three strategy. 

The team shot 9 over par 289, which secured the team in 13th place headed into round four. 

“I don’t think we played our best today, but you know, we’re still here, we survived another day, and you never know what could happen tomorrow,” Dunlap said. 

Following Monday’s game, only eight out of 15 teams were set to stay for the final rounds of the championship.

“Yesterday [round three] was the most nervous I’ve maybe ever been on a golf course, and I think that just came from trying to make the cut, which wasn’t how we’ve played all year, and not how I play ever,” Claycomb said. 

Day four brought the pressure and ultimately elimination from the final rounds at Scottsdale. Neither Ponder’s three birdies on the front nine nor Claycomb’s eagle could carry the Tide, who finished the tournament in 11th place. 

Alabama golf had a tremendous season, finishing with Claycomb, Dunlap and Ponder awarded PING All-Region honors and seeing its 21st appearance in the national championship. The Tide is not finished yet and is sure to gear up for the 2024 season.