TUSCALOOSA The University of Alabama returns all five of its golfers who led the Crimson Tide to a sixth place NCAA finish in 2007, and coaches around the country have taken note.
Alabama has been ranked No. 2 in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Preseason Coaches’ Poll released on Wednesday. Stanford, the 2007 NCAA Champions who return three of its five starters received 19 first-place votes to anchor the No. 1 spot. Georgia, Florida and UCLA round out the top five, each receiving at least one first place vote. Alabama, coached by Jay Seawell, received three first-place votes.
Golf World also ranks a “Top 50 Male Players to Watch,” and Alabama senior Michael Thompson, who advanced to the final of the 2007 U.S. Amateur last Sunday, is ranked No. 6. Southern Cal’s Jamie Lovemark, a sophomore, was ranked first. In the “Best of the Rest,” which included the remaining 40 without ranking them, Alabama had two more players listed, seniors Mark Harrell and Joseph Sykora.
The Alabama women’s golf team received the most votes just outside of the Top 25 in the women’s poll, making it No. 26 if those teams were ranked. Duke checked in as the nation’s No. 1 women’s team in that preseason ranking. Alabama’s Kathleen Ekey was listed among the Top 50 in the women’s “Best of the Rest” list.
The men’s Top 25 included, in order, Stanford, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, UCLA, Southern California, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Charlotte, Texas A&M, UNLV, Coastal Carolina, Tennessee, Florida State, Lamar, Duke, Arizona State, Louisville, South Carolina, East Tennessee State, Texas, Wake Forest, Georgia State and Arizona. Georgia State is coached by former Tide golfer and Prattville native Matt Clark.
Alabama will open its 2007-08 season on Tuesday, September 4 in Japan. Alabama is one of four U.S. collegiate teams competing in the Topy Cup against teams from Japan. Stanford, Duke and Clemson are the other three U.S. teams competing.