Alabama Advances to Match Play at 2018 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships
The fifth-ranked Alabama men’s golf team carded the second-lowest round by any team on Monday to propel the Tide into sixth place overall and a spot in the quarterfinals of match play at the 2018 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. It marks the first time since 2014 the Tide has advanced to the match play portion of the championships, closing play with a 72-hole total of 16-over par 1,168 (294-279-301-294).
Alabama earned the No. 6 seed and will take on third-seeded Texas Tech on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. CT off Hole No. 10. The winning team will take on the winner between Duke and Texas in the semifinals on Tuesday afternoon.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “Today was so hard because there are so many good teams. The (cutline) was everywhere and it felt like there were 10 teams within a shot of one another. We had a good start, and I was proud of that, but then we got hit in the mouth. But unlike (Sunday), we responded.”
Junior Davis Riley his the shot of the day, and possibly the shot of Alabama’s season, on the par 4, 350-yard sixth hole. With the Tide clinging to eighth place and its round, which started on the 10th hole, coming to an end, Riley drained a chip from 88-yards out for an eagle. He went on to finish 3-under over his final five holes to help extend Alabama’s season.
“I was just trying to make a birdie,” Riley said. “I had come close to chipping in on each of the previous two holes and on the fifth hole I hit it to within a few inches. I birdied that hole and hit a good drive in the fairway on six, so I felt good about it. I even thought to myself ‘man, it would be great if this went in.’ I just hit it perfectly and it dropped right in.”
The momentum from that shot was felt throughout the team, as senior Lee Hodges birdied Hole No. 8 and senior Jonathan Hardee did the same on Hole No. 9 – their 17th and 18th holes of the day, helping propel the team into the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.
Together, Riley (-1), Hodges (E) and Hardee (+4) combined to shoot 3-over par on the day to lead the Crimson Tide.
“I am so proud of Jonathan Hardee for giving us a birdie on that last hole after going through a tough stretch on holes five and six – that’s a big deal for a senior,” Seawell said. “Our All-Americans were All-Americans, especially on that back nine. Lee Hodges and Davis Riley were phenomenal. If you’re going to be good in this setting, those guys have to shine and that’s what they did. I am just proud of our entire team.”
Hodges finished stroke play tied for 21st at 2-over par 290 (74-67-77-72), while Riley tied for 29th with a 3-over 291 (74-69-77-71), giving Alabama two golfers among the top-30 individuals. Freshman Davis Shore tied for 37th with a 7-over par 295 (75-74-71-75). Hardee made it four Tide golfers among the top-50, as he tied for 48th overall with a 297 (73-72-76-76). Freshman Wilson Furr rounded out the Tide in 76th place with a 307 (73-80-74-80).
Alabama’s team score of 1,168 is the third-lowest 72-hole total in program history. Additionally, Hodges’ 290 and Riley’s 291 rank 10th and 11th in the school record books for 72-hole marks, respectively.
Alabama will enter the head-to-head matchup with Texas Tech with a 2-1 mark in match play contests this season.
The Golf Channel will broadcast match play action live, beginning at 7 a.m. CT. Live stats can also be found on Golfstat.com.