Hodges Claims Medalist Honor, Alabama Men’s Golf Places Fifth at Puerto Rico Classic
Senior Lee Hodges secured medalist honors at the 2018 Puerto Rico Classic on Tuesday, finishing the three-day, 72-hole event with a 7-under par 206. As a team, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide improved to fifth overall in the 15-team field, closing play with a team score of 14-over par 866 (286-292-288).
“We did some good things as a team but we played in some tough conditions out here this week,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “We weren’t quite ready for it and that’s on me as a coach. We can blame the weather, the wind and rain, and the adversity we’ve gone through, but that’s what this tournament is about. It’s to come down here and give us an indicator and we will be more prepared when we play our next tournament. We look forward to getting back to work on Thursday and becoming the great team I think we can be.
“I am really proud of Lee,” Seawell said. “I thought he did an extraordinary job in preparation. You could see today happening almost three weeks ago by the way he practiced. I think the fruits of his labor was seen throughout this week.”
Hodges was impressive from the start, recording back-to-back bogey-free rounds of 4-under par 67 on Monday, followed by going 3-under par 68 on Tuesday. The Ardmore, Tenn., native then began his third round with a statement, collecting three consecutive birdies to separate himself from the rest of the field. Hodges, who went 39 consecutive holes without a bogey, closed Tuesday’s final round at even par 71. He finished two strokes ahead of Clemson’s Turk Pettit, who placed second overall with a 5-under 208.
“I thought I played solid all week,” Hodges said. “I was able to put the ball in good spots. The wind was really blowing hard. If I was in a position where I could attack, I did just that. But if I was out of position, even by a little, I just tried to hit it in the middle of the green and two-putt from there. I just tried to play smart and was able to hit it really well.”
Hodges becomes the sixth Crimson Tide golfer to claim medalist honors at the Puerto Rico Classic and the first since Robby Shelton won the event in 2016. Furthermore, it was the second individual title for Hodges since arriving at Alabama, and third career tournament victory. Hodges won the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate during his junior season with the Crimson Tide, while his first tournament victory came at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate two years ago while playing for UAB.
Junior Davis Riley entered the tournament as the top-ranked golfer according to Golfstat.com and was also in the hunt for the individual title, before finishing tied for third overall with a 72-hole total of 4-under par 209 (68-71-70). The Hattiesburg, Miss., native collected his fourth top-five finish in five tournaments this season, and his fifth top-10 result of the year.
Hodges and Riley were two of just six golfers in the 75-man field to have finished the event below par on the par 71, 6,716-yard Rio Mar Country Club – Ocean Course.
Freshman Wilson Furr, playing in his second collegiate event, tied for 52nd after a three-day total of 13-over par 226 (75-76-75), while senior Jonathan Hardee tied for 57th at 228 (79-77-72). Senior Steven Setterstrom rounded out the Tide with 229 (76-77-76) to place 61st overall.
In addition to the Tide’s starting five, Alabama sophomore Josh Sedeno and freshman Davis Shore were two of 23 total players who competed as individuals in the event, playing on the par 72, 6,902-yard River Course. Sedeno tied for sixth among the individual players with an 8-over par 224 (74-74-76), while Shore tied for ninth with a 10-over 226 (75-78-73).
Clemson (854), ranked No. 16 in the nation, claimed the team title by one stroke over defending national champion and No. 8 Oklahoma (855). Tournament host Purdue (857) finished third, while No. 7 Georgia Tech (859) finished seven strokes ahead of the Tide.
Alabama will return to action on March 5-7 when it competes at the Southern Highlands Masters in Las Vegas, Nev.