BATON ROUGE, LA (WIAT) – Starting the day 8 shots back of the Florida Gators, Alabama’s men’s golf team didn’t seem to have a good shot to take home a regional title on Saturday. But the nation’s second-ranked team proved why they will be a major threat at the NCAA Championships at the end of May. The Crimson Tide fired a 6-under par 282 to overtake the Gators and win the 2013 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
It was Alabama’s seventh team victory of the year, which sets a record for wins in a season.
“They did a really great job,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said of his team following Saturday’s final round. “We played really good all week. Looking back, we might have been a little rusty; we had not played a competitive round since SECs. This team never gave in, and I’m proud of them. You get in these regionals and your mindset is qualifying (for NCAAs), but their mindset was to run to the front today and it was a really special round.”
Senior Scott Strohmeyer won his first individual tournament title in the next-to-last event of his career. The Auburn, Ala., native carded a 3-under-par 69 in Saturday’s final round to beat teammate Bobby Wyatt by two shots at 4-under 212.
“Scott’s win really was special,” Sewell said. “We were clearly in the NCAAs and with three holes to go, I think I was more nervous than I have ever been. Those last three holes are really hard and Strohmeyer just played great. I’m really proud and happy for him. He works very hard, and he is a leader. He has always been dedicated to this game, and it is great that he gets this moment.”
The 212 was the second-lowest 54-hole total of Strohmeyer’s career after shooting 6-under 210 at the 2013 Aggie Invitational to finish third. He made three birdies in the first seven holes on Saturday at the University Club. A bogey on the ninth hole left him at 2-under at the turn. He made eagle on the par-5 11th hole to move to 4-under. Strohmeyer then made six straight pars before a bogey on the 18th.
Junior Bobby Wyatt carded the tournament’s low round on Saturday with a 6-under 66 that also marked his best round of the season. The Mobile, Ala., native finished runner-up for the second time in three events and the fifth time in his three years in Tuscaloosa. Wyatt began the day tied for 14th but made three birdies and a bogey on the front nine and four more birdies (10th, 12th, 13th, and 18th) on the backside to put a little pressure on his teammate.
“Bobby played spectacular golf,” Seawell said of Wyatt’s final round. “He always seems to have a teammate in front of him when he finishes second, but he is going to get his (chance to win) and I am looking forward to that.”
Alabama sophomore Justin Thomas also posted a top-10 finish with a tie for sixth at 2-over 218. He shot 1-over 73 on Saturday. Junior Cory Whitsett, who came into the event leading the team in scoring, finished tied for 30th at 11-over 227. It was the first time in seven events he has finished outside of the top 10. Trey Mullinax’s 75 was dropped from Alabama’s score in the final round and he finished tied for 37th individually.
The Crimson Tide advances to its 15th NCAA Championships, seventh under Seawell and third straight. UA posted the program’s best finish last season with a runner-up showing. The NCAA Championship format is three rounds of stroke play where at the conclusion they will crown a NCAA Individual Champion and cut the field to eight teams. At that point, the championship plays three rounds of match play to determine the NCAA team champion.
The SEC has a staggering nine teams advance to the NCAA Championships after 12 of the league’s 14 teams qualified for regionals. Along with Alabama, LSU, Florida and Tennessee, the league will send Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas A&M to the Crabapple Course in Woodstock, Ga.