On a windy Sunday morning in Jacksonville, Florida, the University of Alabama men’s golf team is teeing off its spring season at the John Hayt Intercollegiate.

The match is being played at Sawgrass Country Club just across the road from the infamous TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship. The team has no prior experience with the course, yet knew to expect a cool, windy day. The golfers have had experience playing in Jacksonville this time of year, and with the help of head coach Jay Seawell, were able to study a yardage book from the coach’s experience at the course.

A week earlier, the team’s preparation for the spring season was fully underway. The facilities at Ol’ Colony Golf Complex were being used to their full capacity. Putting greens, driving range, and short game areas are placed meticulously around the main building to help players emulate shots that they would need for playing in Jacksonville.

“In practice every week we are prepping for the next event, we will set up par threes to mimic par threes on the golf course we are going to play, we’ll try to get into situations we might be in at the golf course we are going to,” said Canon Claycomb, senior golfer.

The Crimson Tide fielded a five-man team for the event, with an additional sixth player playing as an individual. At the end of the first round, the scores were not where the team had wanted them to be. Out of the five-man team, all players had started one of the first two holes with a bogey or worse. Thomas Ponder had an unfortunate triple-bogey on number one, which he made up for by finishing the first round with three birdies.

“That was our 36-hole day, so we had so much golf in front of us you just kind of shake it off, you got 35 more holes after that, 35 more birdie attempts,” said Ponder on his triple-bogey.

A similarly scored second round had the Tide at ninth for the event. The final 18 holes saw much better play from the team. Starting the day at No. 9 for the tournament, Alabama was able to jump five spots and finish in the top five at No. 4. Each player finished at even or under par except for Jones Free who finished only one stroke over for the day. The Crimson Tide were led by Claycomb who tied for 14th individually shooting 72-71-72 – 215. Ponder was just behind, tied at 18. He shot 74-73-70 – 217.

After a slow start, Alabama battled back into the top 5 ending its first match of the spring season on a good note.

"I was proud of how they responded today after a pretty disappointing start to the tournament. We were able to respond with the second-best round of the day, so that is something to build on. We have a long way to go and a lot of season left to play. We want to play to a standard that we are capable of playing and we are going to continue to put in the work for us to meet that standard,” said Coach Seawell.

The Alabama Crimson Tide golf team heads to Panama City, Florida for its next meet at the Watersound Invitational. This event will be held Feb. 19 – 21 at the Sharks Tooth Golf Club.

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