Alabama has won back-to-back national championships in men's golf after finishing as runner-up in 2012. Obviously, the Crimson Tide is at the top in the sport. That recent history was rewarded when the Golf Coaches Association of America announced that Bama is a pre-season favorite to win a third consecutive national title.
The Crimson Tide, which received 12 out of a possible 20 first-place votes, is tied atop the poll with last year’s NCAA runners-up Oklahoma State, with both teams receiving 516 points. Georgia Tech checks in at No. 3 with 452 points, while Texas (422 points) and Georgia (371 points) round out the top five.
The Tide returns two starters from last season’s national championship team – sophomore Robby Shelton and junior Tom Lovelady.
Shelton is coming off an outstanding rookie season in which he was selected as the Phil Mickelson Award winner as the National Freshman of the Year and was also named the SEC’s Player and Freshman of the Year. A native of Wilmer, Shelton started all 12 events for the Tide and boasted a team and SEC-low 70.14 scoring average – the lowest per round average in Alabama program history.
Lovelady also enjoyed a stellar 2013-14 season during which he started 10 of the team’s 12 events and finished with a 72.27 per round average. The Birmingham native closed the season ranked No. 68 in the final Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
Overall, the Southeastern Conference has eight teams ranked in the preseason poll. Following Alabama and Georgia is LSU at No. 9 and South Carolina at No. 12, giving the league four teams ranked among the top 15. Vanderbilt checks in at No. 16, followed by No. 19 Texas A&M, No. 20 Auburn and No. 21 Arkansas.
The 2014-15 season starts with the Carpet Capital Collegiate, an event the Tide has won three times, on Sept. 5-7 at The Farm Golf Club in Dalton, Ga.