In a finish that “felt like match play,” according to Alabama head men’s golf coach Jay Seawell, the Crimson Tide held off a day-long challenge from Arkansas and scored a one-stroke victory over Arkansas to secure its sixth Jerry Pate Invitational title in seven years on Tuesday.
Alabama senior Davis Riley tapped in a 2-foot par putt to seal the win for the No. 3-ranked Crimson Tide. That gave Alabama a team score of 828 for the tournament’s three rounds, with Arkansas at 829.
“Davis landed his ball about 15 feet from the hole and he knew we had one shot in his back pocket if (Arkansas’ Julian) Pelico didn’t birdie,” Seawell said. “I told Davis ‘if (Pelico) does birdie, then do your thing.’ But he missed and Davis made the smart play and got close enough to tap in.”
Alabama started the day one shot behind second-round leader Brigham Young but both the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks pulled ahead of BYU in the blustery conditions. At one point, Alabama enjoyed a six-shot lead over Arkansas. The Razorbacks kept surging, led by individual medalist Pelico, to push the outcome to the final hole.
Pelico had a three-day total of 197 (13-under) to take individual honors.
“Arkansas is a great team,” Seawell said. “They made a lot of birdies out there. They are hosting the NCAA (Championship) this year and they will be a factor.
“The way the wind was blowing, I thought even par would be a good score today but both teams handled it well.
Riley led Alabama with a three-day total of 201 (-9) to finish second individually. Also scoring for Alabama were Davis Shore (209), Wilson Furr (212), Prescott Butler (214) and Ben Fuller (222).
Butler, a highly-recruited freshman from Old Westbury, New York, shot an 80 in the first round but bounced back with back-to-back rounds of 67.
“Prescott said that he was nervous that first round,” Seawell said. “I told him that was good because it showed that it meant something to him. This was his first time to play for us in a team setting and the way he responded those last two rounds will really help him.”
Auburn (835), Brigham Young (839) and UNC Charlotte (842) rounded out the top five in the 12-team field.
Seawell thanked the tournament host and namesake Jerry Pate for “a first-class event as always.”
He also said that have two of the nation’s military academies, Army-West Point and Air Force, in the field “will help us as much as the golf, even though the golf will help us tremendously.”
“We were paired with West Point the first two rounds,” Seawell said. “They both came to the pre-tournament banquet in the dress uniforms. Our guys got to understand what the cadets go through to play. One of our players asked one of the Army players what he was studying and it was ‘learning to fly a Blackhawk helicopter in combat.’ That puts ‘I made a bogey on that last hole’ into perspective.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.