Cauley captures individual title, leads Tide to second-place finish

Anthony Johnson

Sophomore Bud Cauley continued to stake claim to Crimson Tide golf lore with a sizzling performance at the Linger Longer Invitational, capturing a six-shot victory over the 93-man tournament field. Cauley’s performance, a three-day total of 204 (-12), propelled the Tide men’s golf team to a second-place finish in Greensboro, Ga.

Cauley set the tone of the tournament from the onset with a blistering 64 (-8) in round one, a career-best for the All-American, and low round of the tournament. He carded a bogey-free 18 holes and sank eight birdie putts to solidify his spot atop the leaderboard.

Cauley never relinquished the lead, firing a 73 (+1) in round two and a 67 (-5) on day three to run away with the individual title — his second this season. In 54 holes, Cauley tallied 14 birdies and an eagle.

“I noticed during the practice round that I was reading the greens well,” Cauley said. “It was one of those tournaments where anything I got close to the hole seemed to fall. I got a good stroke going, and I was able to execute once I got out on the course.”

His landslide victory came against a talented field that included University of Georgia product Russell Henley, who is currently the No. 1-ranked golfer in the country, according to Golfweek’s latest rankings.

Opening round woes have been the Achilles heel of the Tide for most of the spring, but a red-hot first day by Cauley — along with a solid 74 (+2) by redshirt freshman Lee Knox — positioned the Tide in a manageable third place, well within striking distance of the leaders.

”It goes to show that if we can just get off to a good start, then we can play with anyone,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “It was nice to be among the leaders after day one and be in contention.”

Day two belonged to Tide redshirt freshman Scott Strohmeyer, who drastically improved his opening round score by 15 strokes, carding a 68 (-4), making him the only player in the field to break 70 on day two.

The Tide vaulted into second place after 36 holes with a team total of 290 (+2). Helping the Tide climb the rankings was sophomore Hunter Slatton, who fired a 74 (+2) on day two. Hunter Hamrick and Knox each turned in 3-over-par scores of 75 to help pace the Tide.

Despite carding a 5-under-par 283 in the final round, the comeback effort by the Tide wasn’t enough. Top-ranked Oklahoma State fended off the rally with a 2-under-par 286, sealing a two-stroke victory.

“This tournament was a lot of fun,” Seawell said. “Our guys were paired with the best team in the country for three straight days, and I was impressed by the way they handled the pressure. It was a challenge, but our guys battled toe-to-toe. We didn’t leave with a moral victory or anything, but I liked what I saw from our team.”

The Tide will return to action next weekend in Augusta, Ga., where they will compete in the Administaff Augusta Invitational from April 2-4.