Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21
Alabama golfers wore plaid ribbons on their hats and bags to remember Luke Ratliff, who died last Friday, during the team’s last regular season tournament. Ratliff was a big supporter of all Alabama athletic programs.
The team wrapped up their regular season at the Collegiate Invitational in 12th place. The team scored a 32-over par 884 (296, 299, 289) at the Country Club Birmingham.
Alabama did have three golfers who placed inside the top 25 individually.
Senior captain Wilson Furr, who played in his final regular-season tournament, led the Tide with a 3-over in the tournament. He finished in a tie for 15th place, the 16th time he has finished inside the top-20 in his career. Furr ended his regular-season collegiate career with a 4-under, 67 final round. It was Furr’s ninth round in the 60s this year, making him the team’s score leader. As a tradition, head coach Jay Seawell walked with his senior for the final round today.
“It made me cry,” Seawell said. “He’s been a tremendous leader, a tremendous young man who has worked hard, who bleeds crimson. It was an honor to walk with him today, I usually walk with a senior on the last day of the regular season, and it was a great walk with him today… Words won’t say what he has meant, he’s got to play in a national final, an SEC final. We still got some work to do but he is a tremendous asset to Alabama golf and always will be.”
After the round, the fact that it was his last regular season tournament hadn’t set in for Furr, who spoke about what the last four years have meant to him.
“It’s kind of surreal, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Furr said. “It’s been awesome. I love all the guys, I had two different waves of guys, so I couldn’t ask for much better. The coaches are amazing too.”
Sophomore Canon Claycomb finished in a tie for 23rd, shooting 5-over for the tournament. After starting the tournament with a 3-over, 74 round, he was able to shoot back-to-back 1-over, 72 rounds. Joining him inside the top-25 was sophomore Thomas Ponder, who tied for 25th, shooting a 6-over in the tournament. Those two and Furr make up the team’s big 3 that did a good job of playing around par for the tournament.
Freshman JP Cave placed 77th after shooting a 19-over tournament. He joined Furr, Claycomb and Ponder with opening rounds 3-over 74 but struggled in the last two rounds. Sophomore Jack Goldasich was in 80th place with a 32-over (84, 82, 79) tournament. He was able to find a rhythm on Wednesday which allowed him to shoot the 8-over round. In the individual spot, sophomore Tyler Lipscomb was a bright spot, shooting 10-over and landing in 43rd place. He was in a great spot in the final round but struggled on the final three holes, bringing his final round to a still-respectable 3-over 74.
After the regular season ended, Seawell said he appreciates the commitment that the team has brought to the golf course, but even more the commitment his golfers brought to COVID-19 regulations. So far, the team has avoided any COVID-19-related issues and Seawell said he is proud of them for that.
Clemson (+2, 854) won the tournament by 6 strokes over Tennessee (+8, 860). This is the Tigers’ second straight win and third of the season. Rounding out the top 5 are North Florida (+11, 863), Vanderbilt (+17, 869), and Auburn (+19, 871).
The tournament was originally supposed to be played at Shoal Creek, but storms caused damage to the course. The Birmingham Country Club stepped up to the tee and hosted the event. The course is one of the best in the United States and Seawell appreciated that the team got to play there. He also stated that the team showed what else they need to improve on before the SEC Tournament in a week.
“Birmingham Country Club has been an incredible host,” Seawell said. “For them to step up in place of Shoal Creek just shows you [how] special of a place it is. What a treat for our team, for all these teams to be able to play Birmingham Country Club in a collegiate event… Our guys had a chance to play somewhere, I think, that exposes some things, and we learned a great deal as we get ready for the SECs in a week.”
The SEC Championship will be held at Sea Island Golf Club in Sea Island, Georgia. The event will be held April 21-25 and will consist of stroke and match play on the weekend.