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Alabama men's golf surges into third


From Special Reports



STILLWATER, Okla. -- The No. 5 Alabama men's golf team set a new Karsten Creek course record for a team score by carding a 9-under par 279 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Championships. 


As a result, Alabama vaulted 16 spots up the leaderboard to third place after 36-holes with a team score of 3-under par 573 (294-279). 


Alabama improved 15 strokes from its opening round total of 294, which concluded early Saturday morning after darkness halted play Friday. The Crimson Tide's second round mark not only was the lowest of the day, but it also bettered the former course record of 8-under 280 set by Northwestern on Friday in the first round. 


Alabama is two strokes back of clubhouse leader No. 13 Texas Tech (571) and one stroke behind top-ranked Oklahoma State (572) entering Sunday's action. The trio are the only three teams in the 30-team field that is below par. 


While Alabama surged, Saturday was a tough day for Ole Miss' Braden Thornberry, the reigning NCAA champion. Thornberry had to wake up early to complete his opening round before turning right around to play another 18 to wrap up the first two rounds. 


Thornberry was on the course for 8 hours, 33 minutes and played 27 holes. He posted a 41 (+5) on the back nine for a 78 (+6). He improved with a 73 (+1) in his second round, highlighted by a bogey-free nine to end his day. 


Senior Lee Hodges and junior Davis Riley led Alabama. Hodges topped the team with seven birdies to go along with just two bogeys for a second round score of 5-under par 67. It was the 14th time this season he has shot in the 60s and the 21st round of par or better for the Ardmore, Tennessee, native. He enters the third round tied for 13th with a 3-under-par 141 (74-69). 


Davis recorded his team-leading 22nd round of par or better and matched Hodges with his 14th round in the 60s after carding a 3-under 69. The Hattiesburg native is at 1-under par 143 (74-69) after two rounds, which puts in him a tie for 23rd. 


Senior Jonathan Hardee finished at even par and has a 36-hole total of 1-over 145 (73-72), which is good for a tie for 37th. Freshman Davis Shore shot a 1-under 71 to give him a total of 3-over 146 (75-71). He is tied for 46th. Freshman Wilson Furr is tied for 128th with a 153 (73-80). 


n In related news, Thornberry, Hodges, and Riley were named Saturday to the PING All-Region team, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA). 


Thornberry earned the honor for the second time in his career. Entering the NCAA Championships, the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world by Golfweek/ was top 20 nationally in the following categories: versus par (sixth at -1.94), scoring average (seventh-69.81), par-3 scoring (11th-3.02), par-5 scoring (12th-4.53), par-4 scoring (13th-3.98), and birdies (13th-149).  


Last year, Thornberry was a PING Southeast All-Region selection before claiming PING first-team All-America accolades. 


It's the second-consecutive year Hodges and Riley have received All-Southeast Region honors, and the eighth-straight season Alabama has had multiple representatives earn the recognition. 


Riley earned the accolade for the third-straight year after garnering all-region honors in 2016 and 2017. In doing so, the Hattiesburg native becomes the fifth player in program history to achieve that feat. The last Alabama golfer to do so was Robby Shelton, who was an all-region honoree from 2014-16. 


Hodges claims the honor for a second-consecutive year, becoming the 13th player in the Alabama record books to do so. 


Hodges and Riley rank as the team's top two golfers on the team in stroke average, average vs. par, and top-20 finishes. Golfweek ranks Hodges 21st in the nation, while it has Riley ranked 26th. 


Of the 27 players on this year's Southeast All-Region squad, 17 of them hail from the Southeastern Conference. 


The PING All-American teams will be determined at a later date.



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