Adapt and Adjust: Men’s golf finishes top 6 despite ‘shotgun’ start

With the team’s first hurdle of the season out of the way, men’s golf is shaping up for championship play.

The Alabama men’s golf team used a 10-under final round to secure sixth place in the Gator Invitational this weekend at 17-under par. 

Alabama senior Wilson Furr led Alabama, tying for 11th place and shooting 6-under for the tournament. Alabama freshmen Thomas Ponder (T28, -3), JP Cave (T35, -2) and Canon Claycomb (T42, -1) also had strong showings at this invitational. Davis Shore, a senior, rounded out Alabama’s starting five, tied for 48th, and shot an even for the tournament. Simms Abney played as an individual and tied for 108 and shot an 11-over. 

Originally a three-day event, The Gator Invitational was shortened to two days due to the chance of thunderstorms on Sunday in Gainesville. This created a “shotgun” start for the tournament on Friday and Saturday. Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said the team “knew early enough” and could prepare before each round for longer days without much rest in between. 

And the preparation paid off. Alabama seemed to overcome the short turnarounds and put together one of the best rounds of the weekend across the tournaments. After the event, Coach Seawell said the challenging weekend would only make the team stronger. The team’s resilience, he said, is a hallmark of a group that’s had to weather a pandemic for nearly a year.

 “With everything that’s going on, I think life is an adjustment,” Seawell said. “I think our guys for the last six to seven months have been trained that things happen every day that aren’t normal. So you’re starting to see young people more and more resilient to the change and adversity, and that’s a good thing.”

This was also the first time any member of the team had played on this course. Despite dealing with limited rest and slower greens, the Crimson Tide was still able to put together a good final round, finishing 10-under. Alabama senior Wilson Furr commended the team’s effort in an interview after the event.

“It set us up very nicely,” Furr said. “I think from this week we learned that we need to keep working on our short game… We knew that going in but especially know that now, and obviously our goals are to win tournaments, win the SECs, and the NCAAs. I think, in order to do that, that’s going to be the key.”

Furr said that he has been pleased with every team member’s performance. They “just do the right things,” he said, noting that everyone is playing up to the Tide’s standards.

Though this tournament wasn’t the team’s first of the season, Seawell said it “feels good” to have the first hurdle in a long season out of the way. He said though there were plenty of positive moments, the weekend was an indicator that “we have a long way to go if we want to be a team that wants to compete for championships.” 

The host team, the Florida Gators, took home the victory at 29-under, propelled by a tournament-best 15-under final round to earn the victory. Georgia and Auburn were tied for second at 24-under with LSU (21-under) and Liberty University (-20) rounding the top 5 out. On the player side, Andrew Kozan of Auburn and Trent Phillips of Georgia led the tournament at 11-under.