Wednesday, March 09, 2005
TUSCALOOSA – A field of 12 men’s collegiate golf teams is gathered in Tuscaloosa for the weekend’s Conrad Rehling Alabama Spring Invitational. The tournament, which begins with a practice round for all teams on Thursday then competitive play beginning at 8 a.m. CT on Friday, will be held at Ol’ Colony.
The Crimson Tide will compete to defend its 2004 Conrad Rehling Championship. Last year Alabama won the team championship and placed two golfers among the top three individual finishers. While Lars Brovold, who finished second in the tournament last year at six-under-par has graduate, back competing for the championship is Clint Provost who finished third last year at four under par.
“It’s always great to host a tournament at your home golf facility,” said Alabama head coach Jay Seawell whose team is enjoying use of its new Jerry Pate Golf Center at Ol’ Colony. “It’s great to be able to host it in your own community. We need community support if we are going to be a championship program. So you get a chance to bring college golf to the Tuscaloosa community, and we’re really excited about Ol’ Colony and the Jerry Pate Center. This event gives us a chance to show it off. It’s a facility we’re very proud to have now.”
Among the 12 teams gathered in Tuscaloosa for the tournament are Alabama, the College of Charleston, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Alabama, Tulane and UAB.
This is the fourth time Ol’ Colony has hosted the tournament, though the Crimson Tide has been hosting a spring tournament every year since 1978.
Clint Provost, Thomas Hagler, Mark Harrell and Gator Todd will fill four of the five spots on the Tide’s roster for this tournament. The fifth player is being determined through a team qualifier and will be either Joseph Sykora, Dwight Rogers or Lance Walker. One of those golfers will compete with the team. The other two will compete in the tournament unattached.
“I think we have a fairly solid four but are still looking for that fifth score and fortunately have depth and talent to draw from for that fifth score,” said Seawell whose team competed against a field full of top 25 ranked teams in its last event. “We played in the Puerto Rico Classic a week ago and it was our first bad tournament showing. Actually, we didn’t play bad, we just didn’t play well. We had to count some high scores. So I’m interested to see how we bounce back. I’m glad we’re playing at home after that one because it gives us a little more of a comfort level. We’ve been playing great really all year, in the fall and in the first part of the spring with the exception of Puerto Rico. We’re the defending champions on our home course and I expect us to do some really good things this weekend.”
On Friday the first wave will tee off at 8 a.m. on the No. 1 tee. Alabama’s wave of five golfers will tee off beginning at 9 a.m. in 10 minute intervals. On Saturday and Sunday, play begins at 8 a.m. with teams going according to their finishes in the previous rounds with the leaders going in the last group. On Saturday and Sunday, teams will tee off from both the No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Play will be completed by around 3 p.m. each day.
Golf fans are encouraged to come watch the tournament, and no admission is charged.
“I hope we can get some big crowds out and some people will come out and watch some great college golf,” said Seawell whose last couple of Alabama teams have produced two current European PGA Tour players in Lars Brovold and Jan Are Larsen. “It does help us to have crowds there. Our guys gain a lot of energy when people come out and watch. That was one of the reasons we did so well in Jacksonville (at the Mercedes Benz tournament where Alabama finished 2nd of 17 teams in a field that included five Top 25 teams). We had a lot of parents there and actually had the Crimson Tide booster club come out and watch our team and I know it made a difference in our play.”