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

Alabama men’s golf opens the spring season with an up-and-down showing

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama Golfer Thomas Ponder in action at the Watersound Invitational at Shark’s Tooth Golf Course in Panama City Beach, FL on Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024.

The Alabama men’s golf team arrived at the shores of Panama City Beach, Florida, on Monday for its first tournament without new PGA Tour player Nick Dunlap and its opening tournament of the 2024 spring season, the Watersound Invitational. Although the Crimson Tide experienced some highlights during the week, its finish was disappointing, placing 10th out of 12 participating teams at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club. 

On Monday, the Crimson Tide got off to a promising start thanks mainly to senior Thomas Ponder. The Alabama native shot an impressive 6-under-par 66 in the opening round, including an eagle on his fifth hole. This strong performance placed Ponder in a tie for the lead with Mississippi State graduate student Hunter Logan at the end of Round 1.  

“It was a good start to the season; I felt pretty comfortable out there,” Ponder said after the opening round. “I wasn’t hitting it remarkably well, but mentally plotted my way around the course, took what the course gave me, and just made the most of my opportunities.” 

Alabama found itself in the middle of the standings after Day 1, in the sixth position. Its team total score amounted to a 1-under 287. 

On the second day of the competition, the Crimson Tide’s performance took a significant turn. Its team total of 13-over 301 was the third-highest score out of all three days between every team in the tournament and Alabama’s season worst. Surprisingly, even Ponder, who had a solid first round, struggled and ended with a modest 2-over 74. This disappointing day resulted in the Crimson Tide dropping five places in the standings, from sixth to 11th. 

Despite its victory chances being diminished in the tournament in Round 2, Alabama unexpectedly appeared as a different-looking team in the final round, which took place on Wednesday. 

Alabama, led by Ponder (4-under 68), secured the fourth-highest score in the field on Day 3 with an 8-under 280, just trailing the top three teams: Vanderbilt, Florida State and Georgia Tech.  

Ponder finished the tournament in fourth place. Aside from Ponder, junior Jones Free played in the tournament as an individual, ending in a share of 37th with an even-par 216. Senior Canon Claycomb (4-over 220) and sophomore Jonathan Grizz (5-over 221) were the other Alabama players finishing top 50. 

Despite the impressive final round, the Crimson Tide still managed only to finish in 10th place; however, Alabama men’s golf coach Jay Seawell said there are a lot of positives to take home from the tournament. 

We learned a lot. [Round 2] was poor, but I love the way the boys responded [in Round 3],” Seawell said. “Yesterday may have been our identity for this event, but it’s not going to be our identity for this year. I’m really proud of the response today and thought they did a great job.” 

Alabama continues its spring season on March 9 at The Hayt in Jacksonville, Florida.  

More to Discover