Recap | Men’s golf falls in semis at SEC Championship


CW / Hannah Saad

Maxwell Donaldson, Contributing Writer

Alabama men’s golf fell in the semifinals of match play in the SEC men’s golf championship. Throughout the season the team had built itself up for moments like this. The team placed second overall in stroke play.

The SEC men’s golf championship is made up of two parts. The first part is three days of stroke play with the top eight moving on. The weekend is made up of match play and the first team that wins three of those matches advance on to the next round. The tournament was held at the Sea Island Golf Club in Sea Island, Georgia. This is the 20th year that the championships were held at Sea Island. The course plays at 7005 yards and is a par 70. 

Alabama (284-277-289-850) used a huge second day 3-under-par 277 to place in a tie for second in stroke play finishing at 10-over-par 850. Alabama stayed in a good position after the first day with a 4-over par 284. Alabama struggled on the last day of stroke play. However, their lead helped them fall only to second place.

Alabama’s 5 golfers placed within the top 40. The team was led by freshman JP Cave. Cave tied for twelfth place with a 3-over-par 213 (70-72-71). This is the first time that Cave has led the Crimson Tide golfers. It is also his first top-15 of his career. Sophomores Thomas Ponder (71-67-76) and Canon Claycomb (74-70-70) both tied for 20th place with 4-over-par 214. Senior Wilson Furr (73-71-72) placed in a tie for 28th at 6-over-par 216. Senior Davis Shore (70-69-79) made his return to competition. Shore finished in a tie for 39th with an 8-over-par 218.

After the Crimson Tide’s week, head coach Jay Seawell discussed the team’s performance. 

 “I thought we did a really good job in stroke play, especially the second day,” Seawell said. “It was probably one of the better rounds that I’ve coached—had been part of at Alabama. It was a really special day; it was a tough, hard day. Our guys played seriously big golf that day. It kind of catapulted us into a good position in stroke play and we finished second. I thought the stroke play side of it was really good. I was proud of how we played in that situation.” 

Seawell also discussed how important it was to get Shore back into the lineup after this week’s tournament. 

“We were excited to get Davis Shore back in the lineup, which helps us tremendously,” Seawell said. “I think, in the stroke play, we proved that we were a good team and that’s important for confidence moving forward.”

Seawell also stated that their success in stroke play came from playing an SEC-only schedule. Iron sharpens iron in the SEC. Within the SEC, 13 teams are ranked inside the top 50 nationally. Five of the thirteen are inside the top 20. This helped prepare the team for tight competition. It allowed the team to see their flaws before this week. Alabama was able to make adjustments before this event.

Alabama moved on to match play alongside Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Both fourteenth ranked Auburn and seventeenth ranked Florida did not advance. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Missouri and Mississippi State also did not advance into match play.

Alabama faced South Carolina in the quarterfinals. It was a close match for the Crimson Tide. However, the team escaped with a 3-2 win. Furr won 2-and-1 over South Carolina senior Jack Parrott. Claycomb won 3-and-2 over South Carolina junior Ryan Hall. Shore was able to flip the match on the back nine. Shore won the match on the 17th hole, with his teammates watching. He won 2-and-1 over South Carolina sophomore Jack Wall. Ponder lost 2-and-1 to South Carolina graduate student Caleb Proveaux. Cave lost 5-and-4 to South Carolina graduate student Jamie Wilson.  

Shore’s victory over Wall was a moment two months in the making. His back injury kept him out of the lineup. Shore made the most of this chance. Shore is healthy now and should be into the future. Alabama made sure that Shore can get rest between rounds and matches.

After the tournament, Seawell discussed Shore’s winning moment over Wall. 

“For him to get the winning point and how he did it with all of his teammates there was just a special moment for all of us,” Seawell said. I know it meant a great deal to him to finally have some good things happen this year for him. I am happy for him and for us as a team.” 

Alabama played well in the semifinals. However, Vanderbilt played better, winning 4-1. Ponder picked up the Crimson Tide’s lone win. It was a 1-and-3 win over Vanderbilt sophomore William Moll. Vanderbilt freshman Cole Sherwood won 5-and-4 over Claycomb. Vanderbilt junior Reid Davenport won 4-and-2 over Cave. Vanderbilt senior Harrison Ott won 2&1 over Furr. Vanderbilt sophomore Matthew Riedel sealed the victory for the Commodores. Riedel won 1-and-3 over Shore. 

Seawell credited the Commodores for their play in the semifinals after the tournament. 

 “The Vanderbilt match, they were very good,” Seawell said. “We knew that going in and our guys played hard. We hung in there but they played really good golf. They made a lot of putts and they played winning golf. I’m really proud of how our guys kept fighting, trying to flip matches. The back end of our lineups was definitely fighting to flip their matches and, in the end, it was too much to overcome.”

Seawell hopes Alabama can use this week to improve as a program. 

 Throughout the week, each player had a moment to shine. Shore had his moment on the 17th hole versus South Carolina. Cave and Claycomb had big last days of stroke play. The pair helped the Crimson Tide stay in a tie for second. Furr played consistently during the week. Ponder led the second-day push with his 3-under round. The team has found success so far this season. It started with a win at the Blessings in the fall. It continued in the spring season with several well-played tournaments.

Vanderbilt defeated Arkansas 3-2 to win the SEC men’s golf championship. Arkansas junior Segundo Pinto won the SEC Individual title with a 6-under-par 204.

The team has next week off to prepare for finals. Some of the team will participate in US Open qualifiers. Alabama will learn on May 5 where they will compete in the NCAA regionals. The NCAA regionals are a three-day event beginning on May 17.