Alabama Golf Looking to Build Momentum Off Shortened Spring Season in 2020-2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed University of Alabama men's golf coach Jay Seawell to play many more rounds than usual over the last few months.
“I have hit more golf balls during this time than I have hit in my 28 years of being a coach. That is for sure,” Seawell said. “It helps my mental health and helps me get away and, so, I am not going to run up and down the road all day, so, I like to hit some balls for exercise. I play probably 4-5 times a week.”
His program was only able to get two tournaments in during the spring before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus. The first being the Puerto Rico Classic, where the Crimson Tide finished fourth overall with a team score of 16-under par during the three-day event in February.
Next up was the Cabo Collegiate in Los Cabos, Mexico in March where the team ended in a tie for seventh after a three-day score of 1-over par. Then, it all came to a screeching halt.
“Our guys had done a really good job of buying into becoming a team,” Seawell said. “The addition of Canon [Claycomb] helped us tremendously. We were not very good in the fall so we were not ranked where we should have been, but we were starting to see a lot of the improvements that saw you see at home, translating on the road.
“The team was starting to hit its stride. The leadership with Wilson Furr was starting to line up. Then, when the rug got pulled out from under us, that is what made it so hard because we felt like we were working toward doing special things.
"We had one practice in between the two tournaments and that was were we saw guys were getting it. It was not tangible, but you could see it. There was positive competition and they were getting after it and being great teammates. I remember looking over at my assistant Jon Howell and saying, 'They have it." Now, we just had to cultivate it, and unfortunately we did have that chance, but that showed me this group was special."
Now a senior, Wilson Furr, who was the team captain last season, placed in a tie for 13th overall in the event down in Rio Mar Beach after shooting 4-under par. He, then, put together a top-40 performance in Cabo, where he shot 3-over par.
“He has always been talented,” Seawell said. “He was thrown into a role of leadership earlier and he was playing good golf with leadership. There is a price for that and it is a heavy burden. He accepted it really well and his talent and leadership began to go hand in hand.”
The Crimson Tide will see two departures from the 2019-20 roster -- Jake Dezoort, who has graduated, and rising junior Frankie Capan II, who is transferring.
Incoming are freshman JP Cave and sophomores Jack Goldasich and David Morgan.
“JP and Jack both have tremendous power and speed and you can not teach that,” Seawell said. “They can hit it a long way. They both love the game. Jack won the state amateur last year by eight shots. I feel like those guys are excited to be here and have high-level games and want to be apart of what we are doing
“I’m excited to have David be part of our program. He proved while he was at Virginia that he has the ability to help us immediately. He is an excellent student also and he will be a great addition to our university and program.”
Throughout the summer months Crimson Tide golfers have been looking to enter in events across the country, that are still happening despite the pandemic, to continue developing their craft.
Namely, rising sophomore Canon Claycomb won the 2020 Rice Planters Amateur in Mt. Pleasant, SC last week after shooting 12-under par through the 54-hole event.
“Golf is such a repetition sport and our guys have been practicing, but you cannot rep games or matches,” Seawell said. “We want to make sure we find tournaments that are popping up around the country for our guys to compete and play in. They are starved. Summer golf is where our guys can really get better.”
Alabama finished the season No. 34 in the Golfstat rankings, and Seawell hopes that the momentum from the shortened spring campaign can bring continued success in the fall when competition, hopefully, restarts for the program.
“There were some things we saw last year that were lining up for us to be that team to compete on a national stage,” Seawell said. “The good thing is we know the things to do to get us back to that point this year. We have the core of our team returning so the fall will be like an extension of what we were doing before we left."