Cauley, Hamrick to lead Tide this spring

Anthony Johnson

The 13th-ranked Crimson Tide men’s golf team is slated to tee off the 2010 spring season Feb. 21-23 at the Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

Alabama is looking to match the success of the fall season, which featured three top-ten finishes in four tournaments, including a fourth-straight title defense at the Jerry Pate Invitational in Birmingham.

Leading the way for the Tide will be Bud Cauley and Hunter Hamrick. Cauley holds the No. 1 ranking in the nation in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, while Hamrick is ranked fourth.

Both Cauley and Hamrick were named to the 2010 Ben Hogan watch list by the Golf Coaches’ Association of America. The Hogan Award, the most prestigious in collegiate golf, is presented annually to the nation’s top golfer.

“We will always be a team that is driven by Bud and Hunter,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “Where they go, we go.”

Cauley, who leads the Tide with a 71.29 scoring average, said the spring season has more of an exciting feel to it and offers a tougher challenge. Alabama will square off against a talented field in Puerto Rico, headlined by No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State.

“It’s not fun to play in a tournament where the best players aren’t there,” Cauley said. “We pride ourselves on playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, so we know that we have to be at our best each and every week.”

Seawell said he has never been the type of coach to hide his team from competition.

“All our tournaments are a challenge,” he said. “We don’t believe in ducking, weaving and hiding from the best. I’m going to throw these guys to the wolves and see if they can survive. If they can’t, we will find players who will.”

Seawell said a majority of the time, the offseason has been devoted to the intricate details of the short game.

“Our ball striking has always been fine,” he said. “But these guys realize that you win or lose on the greens, so we have got to get better with chipping and putting.”

The Tide will compete in five tournaments for the spring season, three of which will be hosted in Georgia, before the SEC championships begin.

After competing in the Puerto Rico Classic, the Tide will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., to compete in the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational from Feb. 28-March 2. From there, the team will travel to Statesbro, GA., to compete in the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational from March 19-21. The following week, the Tide will play in the Linger Longer Invitational in Greensboro, Ga. And from April 2-4, the Tide will compete in the Administaff Augusta St. Invitational, which will be played in Augusta, Ga.

“Spring has got the championships,” Seawell said.“The mind really gets turned up for competition now. This is the time of the year that’s truly thought of as golf season.”