CW / Hannah Saad
The Alabama men’s golf team begins its 2021-22 season this weekend at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This is head coach Jay Seawell’s 19th season. The back-to-back national championship-winning head coach in 2013 and 2014 looks to improve on last season’s NCAA Regionals exit with a talented team ready to step up.
The loss of nationally ranked senior Wilson Furr hurts the Tide; the team will be fielding one of its youngest teams in years. However, many of last season’s younger contributors are ready to return, including junior Thomas Ponder.
The Dothan, Alabama, product was a second-team all-SEC selection a season ago and comes into this season ranked as the 66th collegiate golfer in the nation by Golfstat. Ponder had 93% of his rounds last season count toward the team total and led the team in average vs. par at +0.20.
Alabama also returns sophomore JP Cave. Cave burst onto the scene as a freshman last season and became one of the Tide’s top contributors, with 87% of his rounds counting toward the team total. Cave was also Alabama’s top finisher at the 2021 SEC Championship and Alabama’s second-best finisher at the 2021 NCAA Championships.
Junior Canon Claycomb enters this season as Alabama’s other nationally ranked player at 245th according to Golfstat. The junior from Kentucky is a former SEC all-freshman and had 89% of his rounds count toward the team total. He ranked third on the team a season ago in rounds of par or better and top-20 finishes.
Alabama’s roster rounds out with many other returners, including juniors Simms Abney, Jack Goldasich and Tyler Lipscomb, senior David Morgan, and newcomers Jones Free and Dillon West.
In preparation for the upcoming season, Seawell asked his players to consider what kind of team they are going to be.
“We’ve put it down in five little C’s: choice, competitive, confidence, calm and champions,” Seawell said. “We want to build all the way to the end of being a champion. Right now it will be a lot of work involved in that, but I do look forward to the journey in front of this group.”
Like his championship-winning teams of the past, Seawell has his vision and knows what it takes to win championships at Alabama. The team’s journey begins on Sept. 10 in Scottsdale. The youth of this Crimson Tide team will be a factor this year, but the team received votes in the Bushnell/Golfweek Preseason Coaches Poll.
This weekend will serve as a measuring stick for what Seawell’s 19th team can do.