Alabama Men’s Golf Wins the 2016 Puerto Rico Classic Team Title
Shelton claims medalist honor and leads the Tide to third straight tournament victory
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (rolltide.com)- The No. 13 Alabama men’s golf team picked up right where it left off last fall. The Crimson Tide won its third straight tournament, claiming the 2016 Puerto Rico Classic title on Tuesday behind a three-day, 54-hole total of 25-under par 839 (276-287-276).
Alabama cruised to a nine-stroke victory at the event and third straight team title after it ended the fall season with wins at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational. Furthermore, it marked the Crimson Tide’s fifth Puerto Rico Classic title in the last six years and the sixth in the last nine years.
Alabama was led by junior Robby Shelton, who fired a 7-under par 65 during Tuesday’s final 18 holes and claimed medalist honors with a tournament total of 11-under par 205 (70-70-65). Shelton, who was recently named to the Ben Hogan Award Watch List, captured his third tournament title this season (DICK’s Collegiate Challenge Cup and Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate) and the sixth of his career.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jonathan Hardee, who was the clubhouse leader after 36 holes, finished runner-up at the event. The Greer, S.C., native not only earned a career-best finish, but also carded the lowest 54-hole tournament total during his time at Alabama, as he closed play one stroke back of Shelton with a 10-under par 206 (67-70-69).
“It’s great to get off to a good start to the spring season,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “Everybody did a great job in preparation here. I am really proud of how the team responded today. We won the day with the lead. Robby was terrific today and I thought Jonathan really pushed him. I am proud with how the two of them played and how Robby played with the lead.”
After holding a narrow one-stroke lead after 36 holes, the Tide had four players shoot below par on its way to a 12-under par 276 on Tuesday. As a result, Alabama was eight shots better in the tournament’s final day than its next closest competitor and finished nine strokes ahead of second place finisher No. 11 Clemson (848). Georgia (851), ranked 14th in the nation entering the event, came in third, while Kentucky (853) and No. 16 North Carolina (855) rounded out the top five, respectively.
Freshman Davis Riley tied for 11th overall with a 3-under par 213 (68-74-71) on the 6,945-yard, par-72 River Course at the Rio Mar Country Club. Sophomore Tyler Hitchner gave the Tide four top-25 golfers who finished under par for the tournament, as the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native closed play with a 1-under par 215 (71-73-71) and tied for 25th overall. Senior Tom Lovelady rounded out the Alabama golfers as he tied for 49th with a 54-hole total of 223 (74-74-75).
The Tide has now won three consecutive tournament titles for the first time since winning three straight during the spring of 2014.
Alabama will return to action on March 7-9 when it competes at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, Nev.