Alabama won its first SEC Championship Sunday, with four players finishing inside the top 16. The only team to finish in the red, Alabama also set a 54-hole school record with its 4-under 848 at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Crimson Tide, No. 7 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, had finished runner-up at the conference championship three times. The team made a big charge in Round 2 with a 6-under 278 and entered the final round tied with Vanderbilt at 3 under. Alabama sealed the victory with a 1-under 283 in Round 3 to beat the 24th-ranked Commodores, who were at even-par 852, by four shots.
“It’s one of, if not the best golf conference in the county, and to be the champion of it is a tremendous honor,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said following Sunday’s win. “The SEC Championships are big to us, big to our athletic department and it’s a goal that our team has had all year. It’s a goal accomplished. We’ve got to enjoy it for a day or two and then get ready for regionals.”
No. 32 Arkansas was third at 7-over 859 and No. 16 Georgia was fourth another shot back. No. 3 Auburn, the defending SEC champions, finished fifth at 861.
No. 11 Florida, the third-highest ranked team in the SEC, finished 10th at 37-over 889.
Vanderbilt sophomore Marina Alex, No. 5 in Golfweek’s rankings, won the individual title after beating Tennessee’s Erica Popson in a two-hole playoff. Both players finished at 5-under 208.
Alex moved to the top of the individual race in Round 2 with a 6-under 65 that included eight birdies. Popson charged up the leaderboard in the final round, moving from T-4 into a share of the lead after a 68.
Georgia’s Marta Silva Zamora started the final round tied for the lead with Alex, but a 73 dropped her to third at 209. Arkansas’ Kelli Shean was fourth.
Alabama’s Brooke Pancake and Helena Blomberg finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Teammate Jennifer Kirby was T-10 and Camilla Lennarth ended the tournament in 16th.
Auburn’s Cydney Clanton, Golfweek’s top-ranked player, was T-7 at 1-under 212.
With the win, Alabama secured an automatic qualifying spot into an NCAA Regional, to be played May 6-8.
– Information from the University of Alabama used in this report.