Men's Golf Wins the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate
Jay Seawell not only rekindled the proud tradition of the Alabama Crimson Tide men's golf program, he has entrenched the Crimson Tide into the forefront of the nation's elite teams, securing back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014.
The 14th-year head coach is now charged with sustaining one of the country's top programs – something that is made easier with the return of every golfer from the 2015-16 season.
The golf team's success under Seawell has energized the Tide's alumni base and created an excitement for Alabama golf not seen in recent memory.
Named The University of Alabama's head men's golf coach on July 26, 2002, Seawell's teams have captured four Southeastern Conference championships, including three over the last four seasons. He has led UA to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and eight NCAA Championship berths – all in the past 12 years. His 2012 team reached the NCAA Finals, falling just short to Texas. The Tide used that experience to fuel a return trip to the NCAA Finals in 2013 and 2014.
Seawell is producing headline-worthy student-athletes on the course and in the classroom while his golfers also are among the most active in the Tuscaloosa community, volunteering their time at schools and helping host athletic department events for local children.
Men's golf has put 70 players on the SEC Academic Honor Roll in the last 13 years and he has seen eight players (16 honors) named to the Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar Team. Joseph Sykora, was a three-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and was voted by the league golf coaches as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year an SEC-record three times. In 2008, Sykora won the SEC's H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award (all sports, all males in the league) and Alabama's Bryant Award, as the top male student-athlete from any sport. Cory Whitsett then received the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Elite 89 Award, presented annually to the golfer at the NCAA Championships with the highest GPA. He also was named a 2013 and 2014 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year while winning the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award and the Bryant Award in 2014.
Seawell has coached 29 All-Americans during his coaching career with 14 of those coming over the last four years alone (four in 2011-12, five in 2012-13, four more in 2013-14 and one last season). His golfers at Alabama have been nominated for the sport's highest national awards, including the Ben Hogan Award, the Jack Nicklaus Award, the Fred Haskins Award, the Phil Mickelson Award and the Byron Nelson Award. Justin Thomas won the Nicklaus, Haskins and Mickelson awards in 2012 and Robby Shelton was named the Mickelson Award winner in 2014.
Seawell has coached Alabama to 42 team tournament championships with 31 individual medalists in 13 years in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, the latest by a commanding 4-1 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State in the NCAA Finals at the Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kan. Alabama's dominant season broke the season-old record of team victories with nine in 12 events during the 2013-14 season. UA also set a school record for winning percentage with a 150-6-2 record for a winning percentage of 95.6.
Seawell was named the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year and the SEC Coach of the Year in 2014. It was Seawell's third SEC Coach of the Year Award in as many years and fourth overall.
The Crimson Tide finished tied for second in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships before fighting its way through three rounds of match play with victories over SMU (3-2), LSU (4-1) and Oklahoma State (4-1) in the finals. Alabama also won the school's fifth SEC Championship, third straight and fourth under the direction of Seawell with a 16-shot win at the Sea Island Golf Club. The Tide also won its third straight and fourth overall NCAA Regional Championship with a victory in Auburn.
The 2013-14 Crimson Tide team was led by a duo of first team All-Americans: Wyatt and Shelton. The Tide boasted four All-Americans in all with Trey Mullinax (second team PING and Golfweek) and Whitsett (honorable mention PING and second team Golfweek) both receiving All-America honors. Shelton was also the SEC Player and Freshman of the Year while Whitsett was the league's Scholar-Athletes of the Year. The Tide also had a record four first team All-SEC selections.
Alabama's 2013 NCAA national championship concluded an historic season at the Capstone that saw the Crimson Tide win a school-record eight times in 12 events and post a 154-15-3 cumulative record. Alabama won seven of eight events in the fall, including the final six events.
The Crimson Tide finished tied for third in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships before rolling through three rounds of match play with victories over New Mexico (4-1), Georgia Tech (3-0-2) and Illinois (4-1) in the finals. Alabama also won the school's fourth SEC championship, second straight and third under the direction of Seawell with a two-shot win at the Sea Island Golf Club. The Tide also won its second straight NCAA Regional championship with a victory in Baton Rouge.
The 2012-13 Crimson Tide team was led by a trio of first team All-Americans: Whitsett, Wyatt and Thomas. The Tide boasted five All-Americans in all with Mullinax (PING) and Scott Strohmeyer (Golfweek) both receiving honorable mention All-America honors. Whitsett was the SEC Player of the Year and one of the league's Scholar-Athletes of the Year while winning two times. Thomas, a sophomore, also won twice to set Alabama's career record for victories with six. Whitsett, Thomas and Wyatt were all selected for the United States 2013 Walker Cup team.
Seawell was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second time in as many years and third overall while also being named a finalist for the Dave Williams Award (national coach of the year).
The 2011-12 Alabama team captured the SEC Championship, NCAA Athens Regional and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships. The Tide won the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships at Riviera Country Club with a 7-over 859. Alabama then dispatched of Kent State (3-1-1) in the quarterfinals of match play and California (3-2) in the semifinals. The Crimson Tide's bid for the program's first national championship fell one match short as the Tide were edged by Texas (3-2) in the NCAA Finals.
Alabama won five of the final seven team events heading into the 2012 NCAA Championships with victories at the Puerto Rico Classic, the Schenkel Invitational, the Linger Longer Invitational, the SEC Championship and the NCAA Athens Regional. The 2011-12 Tide set school records for team season scoring average at 284.56 (.78 vs. par), low round vs. par at 20-under 268 and low 54 holes vs. par 47-under 817.
Seawell was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second time and was a finalist for the Dave Williams Award (national coach of the year).
Seawell also coached impact freshman Thomas to unseen heights in 2011-12. The rookie from Goshen, Ky., won a school-record four times, including medalist honors at the SEC Championships. For his efforts, Thomas was named the SEC Player and Freshman of the Year and was the first Tide player to be selected as the national player of the year.
Whitsett and Wyatt turned in successful sophomore campaigns in 2011-12. Whitsett won twice, capturing the 2011 Western Refining All-America Classic and the 2012 Linger Longer Invitational. He finished with a 71.38 scoring average and earned second-team All-America and first-team All-SEC accolades. Wyatt averaged 71.70 strokes per round and was a second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC choice, after recording seven top-five finishes. Hamrick wrapped up his decorated Alabama career by earning 2012 honorable mention All-America honors and second-team All-SEC plaudits.
Alabama's 2010-11 team captured five tournament titles and finished outside of the top four only once in stroke play. The Tide posted a 137-24-0 record in head-to-head meetings and had four players ranked in the top 65 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index at the end of the season.
Alabama posted a runner-up finish at the SEC Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships with a thrid-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Indiana Regional.
Bud Cauley re-wrote the Alabama record book in 2010-11 with a 70.75 scoring average over 36 rounds. He finished 15 shots under par and was named a first-team All-American by both PING and Golfweek while also being selected to the All-Nicklaus team. Whitsett garnered 2011 All-America honors under Seawell's tutelage, being named to the second team by both PING and Golfweek while garnering first-team All-SEC and SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Wyatt was a second-team All-SEC choice.
Returning only two lettermen for the 2009-10 season, Seawell was presented one of his biggest challenges. The veteran coach responded with a squad that captured its fourth straight Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and boasted four medalists throughout the season. The win at the Jerry Pate was the program's fourth in eight years under Seawell's guidance.
Hamrick captured medalist honors at the 2009 JPNI and the Western Refining All-America Classic while tying for first the following spring at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational, on his way to honorable mention All-America honors. Cauley set a school record for scoring average at 71.32 while Hamrick finished second on the team at 72.88. Cauley won the Isleworth Collegiate and the Linger Longer Invitational while garnering 2010 first-team All-American honors.
The 2008-09 team added a program first to Seawell's resume with a victory at the NCAA Northeast Regional. It was the first regional title for the Crimson Tide's men's golf team and the club's second win of the season.
Seawell's teams from 2007-09 finished sixth, 13th and 15th, respectively, in the NCAA Championships while the 2008 team also captured the school's first Southeastern Conference Championship since 1979.
The 2008-09 team finished with two tournament titles, at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and the NCAA Northeast Regional. Seawell's five-man team almost always included at least three freshmen and finished with a 292.06 average score per round.
Freshman sensation Cauley garnered 2009 first-team All-America honors from Golfweek and second-team honors from PING. He was first-team All-SEC and the SEC Freshman of the Year. Cauley won medalist honors at the United State Collegiate Championship while Hamrick was the medalist at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Cauley was also a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award (national amateur of the year) and selected to play for the Americans at the 2009 Walker Cup and the 2009 Palmer Cup.
Alabama's 2007-08 team finished the season ranked No. 3 in the final Golf World/NIKE Coaches poll and captured its first SEC golf championship in 29 years. Seawell's success caught the attention and respect of his coaching peers, who voted him the 2008 SEC Coach of the Year. His 2008 Tide team co-led the nation in team tournament championships with six wins and also produced four medalists in 2007-08. The team set the school's 54-hole record with the 810 it shot to win the 2007 Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. In 2007-08, the golf team won both of the UA athletic department's biggest awards, the men's team with the highest GPA and the men's community service award.
Seawell's program in 2006-07 made Alabama history, catapulting to the nation's No. 1 ranking in all three collegiate polls in September of 2006 and holding the top spot in the Coaches poll from September through early February of 2007. The team won four tournaments and set school scoring records on its way to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships and a runner-up showing at the SEC Championships.
After arriving at the Capstone for the 2002-03 season, Seawell and quickly established a formula for success. His first Crimson Tide team finished sixth at the SEC Championships, after a ninth-place showing the previous year. Alabama also qualified for the NCAA East Regional, only the second appearance in six-year span for the Tide.
The 2003-04 season helped build the foundation for the coming years at Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished 11th at the SEC Championships, but earlier captured its first tournament team title with a win at the Conrad Rehling Invitational, proving that the program was building for the future.
That future came quickly as the Crimson Tide qualified for not only the NCAA Regionals in 2005, but tied for 28th at the NCAA Championships. It was Alabama's first NCAA Championship appearance since the 1996 season. The Tide posted a sixth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional to qualify.
The Crimson Tide again qualified for NCAA regional play in 2006, finishing 14th at the NCAA West Regional. Alabama also recorded a third-place finish at the SEC Championship, its best at that time since a third-place showing in 1990.
Seawell began his coaching career at Anderson College, where he coached from 1991-96 and won five consecutive Region 10 championships. His work earned him five Region Coach of the Year Awards. After briefly leaving Anderson for another career pursuit, Seawell returned to coach Anderson again in 1997-98.
Seawell was hired by Augusta State as its head coach prior to the start of 1998-99 season. He led ASU to four straight NCAA Regional appearances and three trips to the NCAA Championships. Seawell's 2001 team finished seventh at the NCAAs before turning in the best finish in school history the following year with a fifth-place showing. He coached three All-Americans during his tenure at ASU, including two-time All-American Jamie Elson along with All-American and former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson.
Seawell is a 1988 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree is in hotel and restaurant management. He lettered on the Gamecocks golf team and served as the president of the University's Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Seawell and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Brooke, Jackson and Lauren.