Tide Golf Teams Face Challenges

Tom Lovelady

Disappointment is relative, but both the Alabama men's and Crimson Tide women's golf teams have had their "downs" this year. For the Crimson Tide men, it was not winning a tournament for the first time in nearly a year. For the Bama women, it has been not being truly competitive for championships in early spring tournaments.



Nevertheless, both teams are very good with the Alabama men ranked first in the nation (despite a second place finish by one stroke in the last outing) and the Crimson Tide women eighth in this week's national poll. Both squads are in action this weekend.

Alabama's men's team flew directly from Los Cabos, Mexico, to Las Vegas, where the Tide will participate in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, hosted by UNLV at the 7,510-yard, par 72 Southern Highlands Golf Club. The Crimson Tide women's team is at Hilton Head Island, S.C., for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at the 6,142-yard, par-71 Long Cove Club.

Before Bama's loss by a stroke to Houston at os Cabos, the Alabama men had won 11 consecutive tournaments, including last year's NCAA Championship event. The last tournament in which the Tide had not finished first was the 2013 version of the Southern Highlands in Las Vegas, where Bama was second last year.

Once again this year, the Southern Highlands will have one of the most challenging fields in collegiate golf. The 15-team tournament features seven of the top 10 teams in the country and 12 of the top 25 in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Coaches Poll.

Alabama will be joined by No. 2 Oklahoma State, No.3 Georgia Tech, No. 4 California (defending champion), No. 5 Georgia, No. 10 Stanford, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 18 Texas, No. 19 UCLA, No. 21 New Mexico, and No. 27 Arizona State. The rest of the field includes TCU, Texas Tech and UNLV.

The 54-hole stroke play tournament will be played over three days (today through Sunday), with tee times beginning at 8 a.m. PT (10 a.m. central) each day off the first and 10th holes.

Coach Jay Seawell's lineup for the weekend is anchored by seniors Bobby Wyatt, Cory Whitsett, and Trey Mullinax along with sophomore Tom Lovelady, and freshman Robby Shelton.

Shelton is second in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index with his teammates Mullinax and Wyatt coming in at No. 5 and No. 9, respectively. Both Shelton and Wyatt posted top 10 finishes at the Cabo Collegiate, with Shelton earning third place honors and Wyatt tying for eighth.

The Alabama women's team is the defending champion from both 2012 and 2013 at the Darius Rucker. The Tide is looking for its second team title of the 2013-14 season.

Bama is also playing today through Sunday with 18 holes each day and tee times beginning at 8 a.m. ET (7 central).

Hilton Head Island has attracted one of the most competitive fields in collegiate golf. Hosted by No. 13 South Carolina, the 17-team field consists of the No. 8-ranked Crimson Tide, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 20 Wake Forest, No. 21 LSU, No. 24 Kentucky, No. 25 Auburn, Furman, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Alabama Coach Mic Potter's lineup will consist of senior Stephanie Meadow, sophomore Emma Talley, junior Daniela Lendl, senior Hannah Collier, and freshman Mia Landegren.

Meadow leads the team with a 70.94 scoring average and ranks as the No. 4 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. She also holds the tournament record for low 18-hole score with a 67 in 2012. Talley is second on the team with a 73.06 average and ranks 44th in the Golfweek/Sagarin, while Daniela Lendl comes in at 73rd.

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