The University of Alabama men’s golf team, perennial national contenders under head coach Jay Seawell, had a rare slump in 2019, missing the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2015 and only the second time in Seawell’s nine seasons — and some of the issues lingered into the fall schedule.

“To be honest, we didn’t play that great,” said Frankie Capan III when asked about the fall schedule. “I played OK, but it wasn’t up to the standard I set for myself. But we’re young. I’m a junior and I feel really old. So it’s just a matter of our freshmen getting themselves into a new environment.

“We had a great winter program. I’m really excited.”

Heading into the team’s first spring tournament, the Puerto Rico Classic, which opens Sunday at the Rio Mar Country Club in San Juan, Seawell says he shares that excitement.

“This is the best time of year to go to Puerto Rico,” Seawell said. “You get off the plane, it’s 85 degrees and you get five days of great practice. You look at what we’ve been playing in, the snow and the rain, and yet we’ve been competing every day.”

Seawell noted the team is young but hoped for a strong start to be supplemented by the anticipated return of Davis Shore, who has missed nearly an entire year, first with a torn labrum, which was followed by surgery on a spinal microfracture.

“When people look at last year, we weren’t really broken as a program,” Seawell said. “We just lost one great player in January when Davis Riley (now the No. 1-ranked player on the Korn Ferry Tour) turned pro and then two months later we lost Davis Shore. He’s been cleared now but he probably won’t start playing in tournaments until mid-March.”

Seawell said his primary focus is in building a roster that can be competitive when SEC and NCAA Tournament play comes in April in May but feels “some of the guys learned to be a little more prepared this winter” and is looking for solid results in San Juan.

“Wilson Furr has been tremendous in the leadership department,” Seawell said. “We will start with Wilson, Frankie and Jake DeZoort. Jake is a walk-on but he’s been working his butt off. We have a freshman, Canon Claycomb, who just got eligible at mid-term so he will be making his Alabama debut. Then we’ll have another freshman in Thomas Ponder.

“We’ve spent the last four weeks competing and playing in a tournament format so some of our guys should be a little more prepared.”

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