Alabama Men’s Golf advances to 2018 SEC Championship Match
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The sixth-ranked Alabama men’s golf team will play for the 2018 Southeastern Conference title after a pair of match play victories on Saturday. The Crimson Tide captured a 3-2-0 win over fourth-ranked Vanderbilt in the morning and followed that with a 3-1-1 win over seventh-ranked Florida in the afternoon.
Alabama, the sixth-seed in match play, advances to take on the ninth-ranked and fourth-seeded Auburn on Sunday morning for the right to claim this year’s championship. All the action can be seen live on SEC Network beginning at 6:30 a.m. CT (7:30 a.m. ET).
“It was a really long day,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “First of all, the Vanderbilt match was incredible and it went down to the last hole. I am so proud of how we battled against them. We were down early and it looked like we were going to get whipped. To the boys’ credit, they all flipped their matches. I am really proud of that and it showed a lot because Vanderbilt has a great team.
“That match took a lot of emotion and we had only about an hour to regroup and do it again which is really tough to do. I think it showed a little bit at the beginning of our match against Florida. It looked like we were a little lethargic and you could tell our energy was a low. But when it got into crunch time, the guys really responded. I am especially proud our younger players in the afternoon. The older guys carried us in the morning, but our young guys did a great job of giving us energy in the afternoon.”
Senior Jonathan Hardee and junior Davis Riley both finished the day 2-0-0 to lead the charge. Hardee captured a 1-up win over Vanderbilt’s Theo Humphrey in the morning and followed that with a 3&2 win over Florida’s Alejandro Tosty in the afternoon. Riley was equally impressive, collecting a 2&1 win over Mason Greenberg of Vandy and a 4&3 triumph over SEC stroke play medalist Andy Zhang of Florida.
Senior Lee Hodges and freshman Davis Shore each split their two matches on the day. Hodges secured a 1-up win against Will Gordon in the morning, but fell 4&3 to John Axelson in the afternoon. Shore fell 4&3 Patrick Martin of Vanderbilt but came back from three holes down to defeat Florida’s Gordon Neale, 1-up, in the afternoon. Freshman Wilson Furr went 0-1-1 on the day (lost to John Ausenstein of Vanderbilt 1&2 and finished all square against Florida’s Chris Nido) to round out the Tide.
The Tide will now turn its focus to the championship match against Auburn on Sunday morning. Despite a grueling day full of emotions, Seawell says his team will be ready to go.
“All these guys came for to Alabama because they wanted to play for championships,” Seawell said. “The SEC is the best conference in the nation and this is a hard conference to win. We are excited and thankful and looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a championship on Sunday. It will be tough because Auburn is very good, as is every team in our league. We are excited, but we need to get some good rest because we have to get up bright and early and do it again tomorrow. The guys are excited. I told them to enjoy the heck out of it tonight and be ready to go in the morning.”
Live stats can be found throughout match play on Golfstat.com.
Alabama vs. Auburn Championship Match Tee Times
6:30 a.m. CT: Lee Hodges vs. Jovan Rebula
6:40 a.m.: Davis Riley vs. Trace Crowe
6:50 a.m.: Davis Shore vs. Ryan Knop
7:00 a.m.: Wilson Furr vs. Brandon Mancheno
7:10 a.m.: Jonathan Hardee vs. Wells Padgett