By Joe Klingbeil
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
VESTAVIA HILLS — The Alabama men’s golf team was pretty easy to recognize as it walked the lush, green landscape of Old Overton Club, donned in the classic crimson polo Tuesday afternoon.
It was even easier to recognize the Crimson Tide as the best team in the field over the last two days, as Alabama held a firm grasp on its lead it produced Monday, and won the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate for the fifth time in the last six years.
“Every win is special, and it is,” coach Jay Seawell said. “I’m proud of our guys, I’m proud of the way they handled the last five holes, it got really tight. The guys handled the last three or four holes really well, and I think they’ve learned from the last two tournaments we’ve played, so as a coach I’m very proud.”
Alabama tallied a final round score of 3-under-par 277, and racked up a three-round total of 19-under 821, which was six shots better than the closest opponent.
Lee Hodges led the charge for the Crimson Tide, posting a 9-under 271, his career-best for a 54-hole total. It was Hodges’ fourth and final time playing at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate, and he sure did make the most of it.
“I’m proud of how the boys fought today,” Hodge said. “I played well, but I had a rough stretch in the middle, I made three bogeys in a row, but other than that I thought I played pretty well, I can’t complain.”
Hodges finished third overall in individual scoring and Davis Riley, who turned in a 4-under 66 on Tuesday, finished sixth. After a string of second-place finishes to begin the season, the Crimson Tide officially has its first win of the 2017-18 season.
“It shows that they want to be winners,” Seawell said. “It shows that they care about each other, which is what I love. Like I said, in the ups-and-downs we had a lot of guys bounce back and do things properly. When things aren’t going your way it’s really easy to get selfish and none of our guys did, so I’m really proud about how they played team golf today.”
Coming in second place, after a vehement comeback attempt, was Auburn, who posted a 13-under 267 final round, followed by Baylor, who finished 12-under-par 828 on the tournament.
“Another great win at the Jerry Pate, who is so kind to give up his time and money to make such a special event for everybody,” Seawell said. “But also us as Alabama to win it, which we’ve done a few times now, it makes it even more special.”