Behind Robby Shelton, Alabama Men’s Golf Vaults up Leaderboard at NCAA Championships
Behind the play of junior Robby Shelton’s 4-under par 66, the 13th-ranked Alabama men’s golf team carded a team score of 1-under par 279 during the second round of play at the 2016 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. The Crimson Tide, one of two teams to shoot under par during Saturday’s second round (Oregon), vaulted nine spots up the leaderboard and is in sixth place with a 36-hole total of 9-over par 569 (290-279) heading into the third round of play.
“What an exciting round,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “We got off to a great start, just competing and battling. You could feel it last night in our team meeting. I think the guys were able to relax a little bit today. The back nine is really hard. The wind started up a little bit, but I am really proud of all of our guys. To shoot an under par round out here is a big deal and I am really proud of how our guys responded.”
Shelton’s bogey-free round of 66 on Saturday was the lowest round by any individual thus far on the par 70, 7,014-yard Eugene Country Club course. Moreover, Shelton now has recorded 28 consecutive holes of bogey-free golf entering the third round of play. He is in a tie for second overall after 36 holes with a four-under par 136 (70-66), just one stroke behind the overall leader Justin Suh of Southern California (135).
“Robby looked about nine-feet tall today,” Seawell said. “He looked like that stud, first team all-america, best player in the country out there today. That’s who I think and believe he is and it was fun to watch. He had embraced this golf course. It sets up beautifully to his eye. It demands excellence and that’s who he is. For him to get a round out here without a bogey is a big deal. The four he made on the last hole was just exceptional.”
“I thought I played well today,” Shelton said. “To play bogey-free golf, especially out here, is tough to do. I am just hitting it really well right now. I’ve been able to hit a lot of greens and I am putting decent, so I am pretty pleased with that.”
Shelton was one of three Alabama golfers to shoot under par during Saturday’s round as sophomore Jonathan Hardee and freshman Davis Riley each carded a 1-under par 69 on the day to help the Tide climb the leaderboard.
Hardee continues to impress with his play at this year’s NCAA Championships, as he is in a tie for sixth with a two-day total of 1-under par 139 (70-69). It’s his lowest 36-hole total since carding a 137 in the first two rounds of the Puerto Rico Classic in February.
Meanwhile, Riley rebounded from his opening round of 5-over par 75 and improved six strokes to finish the day in a tie for 53rd at 4-over par 144 (75-69).
“Davis did a good job bouncing back,” Seawell said. “I am really proud of that. You can tell he was a little tense (Friday), but he’s a freshman and that’s to be expected. And Jonathan has just played solid throughout the tournament. When he plays like that, it just relaxes everybody. He’s hitting a lot of fairways and green. He’s doing his role and his job well and I am really proud of him too.”
Rounding out the Tide was senior Tom Lovelady (75-76) and junior Dru Love (76-75) who are tied at 11-over par 151.
With Saturday’s result, Alabama finds itself in good position to make the first of two cuts during the stroke play portion of championship play. The 30-team field will be cut to 15 after 54 holes. Those 15 teams will be whittled down to eight teams after a fourth round of stroke play. The eight teams will then begin three rounds of match play for the national title (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5), which is slated to be held on May 31 and June 1.
Vanderbilt, ranked eighth in the country entering this year’s championship, holds the overall lead after 36 holes by two strokes with a 3-over par 563. Third-ranked Southern Cal is in second at 565, followed by No. 21 Arkansas at 566. Oregon, who jumped 15 spots after carding the lowest round of the day (3-under par 277), is tied for fourth with No. 12 LSU at 8-over par 568, one stroke ahead of the Tide.
Alabama will be paired with LSU and Oregon during Sunday’s third round. The teams will tee off Hole No. 1 beginning at 7:22 a.m. PT (9:22 a.m. CT).
Live scoring throughout this year’s tournament can be found at www.Golfstat.com.