By Cameron Greenwood Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The Alabama men’s golf team is set to compete in its 14th consecutive NCAA postseason competition starting Monday in the Pacific Regional at the par-72, Reserve at Spanos Park course in Stockton, California.
“I’ve heard it’s a fair golf course, it’s going to be great,” Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. “Any regional you go to, you need to play good, you’re on someone’s home ground so we just need to be good.”
Alabama is coming off a last-hole loss in the SEC Tournament where Auburn freshman Wells Padgett made a birdie putt to give the Tigers the SEC crown.
“I still hate seeing that putt go in,” said Seawell. “I think anytime you compete all the way to the end you learn something, so did we learn something? Yes, I learned how tough and resilient this team is.”
This Alabama team wants to use that heartbreaking defeat as motivation.
“It’s definitely a little fuel to the fire, we wanted to win that one bad,” first-team All-SEC junior Davis Riley said. “Thankfully, we’ve got two events left where we can cap it off like we would like to.”
The Crimson Tide believes it has what it takes to win a national championship.
“We’ve got a really good team,” first-team All-SEC senior Lee Hodges said. “The freshmen have obviously been doing a great job for us as of late, at SECs they played unbelievable golf. We’ve got a good mix of freshman and seniors, experience and non-experience. We’re excited to get going.”
Seawell believes UA has the right mentality heading into its postseason matchup.
“I’m starting to see a little of that, I hate to use the word, but swagger, a little of that walk and they talk with each other about things that are more than just this moment, you know, further down, bigger picture moments which I like to hear because it means they are starting to believe,” the coach said.
No Alabama golfer has played the course in Stockton, but that hasn’t changed the Crimson Tide’s preparation very much.
“There’s only so much you can do here, we are just going to take care of business like we’ve been doing all year here just practice get a good mindset going and then go there and get used to it,” Riley said.
The top five finishers from each of six regionals advance to the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide has won four NCAA regionals overall, with three of those coming in the last six years.