Claycomb, Ponder fail to qualify for NCAA Championship


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Canon Claycomb hits a shot in the NCAA Bryan Regional at the Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas.

Mathey Gibson, Contributing Writer

Alabama juniors Thomas Ponder and Canon Claycomb teed off for the opening round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf Bryan Regional on Monday with hopes of securing a championship nod. Despite a strong showcase, those dreams were dashed Wednesday afternoon in Texas.

Entering the day, Claycomb was tied for 12th after a (72-70/142) performance during rounds one and two. Ponder trailed close behind after posting (73-73/146) through his first 36 holes good enough to tie for 32nd.

Claycomb began his final round on fire with birdies in three of his first five holes. His counterpart, Ponder, also began with a birdie on the opening hole. However, bogeys on No. 2 and No. 5 along with six pars left Ponder with a 1-over 37 on the front nine. After a bogey on No. 7, Claycomb dropped to 2-under 34 across the front nine.

Things didn’t get much easier for Ponder, who following four consecutive pars, bogeyed No. 10 and No. 11 to fall to 3-over on the day. A bogey on the 14th-hole, followed by four more consecutive pars, ended Ponder’s run finishing T39th (73-73-76/222).

Claycomb’s luck was much better. After bogeys on No. 11 and No. 13, Claycomb recorded three consecutive pars on No. 14, No. 15 and No. 16. He would finish by recording a birdie on No. 17 and par on No. 18— setting up a four-way playoff between Aymeric Laussot (TCU), Carson Barry (Oregon State) and Noah Goodwin (SMU).

After a bogey on the first playoff hole, Claycomb’s exciting run came to an end, finishing with a 3-under total of 213 (72-70-71). Barry would go on to defeat Goodwin and advance to the NCAA Championships next week.

Alabama head coach Jay Sewell admired the junior duo’s effort.

“I am really proud of both Canon and Thomas for getting to this point,” Seawell said. “They have led us all year long both on and off the course and both deserve to be here. It stinks that the rest of the team couldn’t be here to support their teammates. This is a team event and when you play as an individual, you get the worst tee times and practice times and such, but I thought both of them handled all that really well. I am proud to be their coach.”

Despite a disappointing end to the year, Claycomb and Ponder choose to focus on the positives.

“It was a great experience to be a part of and really a lot of fun,” Claycomb said. “Any time you wear the crimson and white on the golf course is special for us.”

“I had a great time playing alongside Canon [in Wednesday’s final round],” Ponder said. “I didn’t even know he was in contention until he birdied No. 17 and I found out he was tied. It was a lot of fun this week and a great experience.”

Alabama men’s golf will look to bounce back after a tough 2021-22 season in 2022-23.