Thursday, February 23, 2006
TUSCALOOSA Jay Seawell hopes the success Alabama found at Sawgrass earlier this month will propel it against another strong field this weekend when the University of Alabama golf team travels to Rio Grande, Puerto Rico to participate in the Puerto Rico Classic.
Official play begins on Sunday February 26 and continues through Tuesday, February 28. Purdue University is the host institution, and the tournament is being played at the par 72 River Course at Westin Rio Mar Country Club, the course that hosted the World Amateur two years ago. The field includes Alabama, Arizona State, Clemson, Duke, East Tennessee State, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kent State, Michigan, Minnesota, N.C. State, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Texas.
“Getting to go to Puerto Rico is a great thing, especially in February, however it’s also one of the best golf tournaments in the country. We don’t exactly go down there for the weather,” said Alabama Coach Jay Seawell. “You get to play against the best. It is a great place to go and we all look forward to it, but more importantly, it gives us a chance to get some type of summertime or late spring weather against the best teams in the country. It’s a unique event. It’s pretty cold in Indiana at this time of year, so several years ago, I think 10-15 years ago, Purdue created this tournament to help get their team started early, and teams have just jumped on. The good teams follow each other. It’s our second year in the event and we’re excited to get the opportunity to go there and play against the best. It helps our players prepare for the championship seasons coming up later this spring. And the conditions we’ll find at this course are similar to those we find when we play the SEC Championships at Sea Island.”
Alabama will send five men to compete in the tournament, among them Humacao, Puerto Rico native and two time World Amateur participant Max Alverio. The other four include Mark Harrell, Matthew Swan, Gator Todd and Stewart Whitt.
“We’re excited that Max gets a chance to play in front of his home crowd. He is the best player in the country of Puerto Rico, so we should have some good galleries for him, and it gives him a chance to go home and showcase what he’s about,” said Seawell. “And he’s played well. He played in two tournaments in the fall, finished second in one and in the top 20 in the other, so I’m looking forward to him getting back in the lineup.”
Alabama opened its 2006 spring season February 5-7 at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship which was played at Sawgrass country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Playing among a field that included seven ranked teams, Alabama finished third of 15 teams there.
“It’s that time of year where you just want to play as often as you can now,” said Seawell who is eager to get his team back on the course. “The weather hasn’t been really great for us as far as preparation, but that’s one great thing about our Jerry Pate Center, we have been able to hit balls indoors a little bit despite the rain and cold weather. But we are looking forward to returning to the course and getting some great competition in this tournament this weekend.”