With one round to go at historic Olympia Fields, the Crimson Tide is closing in on a potential huge early-season sweep.
Alabama fired a second straight even-par 280 round Saturday at Olympia Fields’ North Course to break from the pack at the Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational. The Crimson Tide began the second round tied for the lead with Baylor and Oklahoma State but ended the day with a three-shot lead.
The effort has been led by Davis Riley, who holds the individual lead by one shot at 7 under. The Crimson Tide junior was 2 over for his second round before catching fire on the back nine, posting five birdies for a closing 30 and a 3-under 67.
It may be just the second event of the team’s season, but a sweep at this event could be huge for the Crimson Tide.
This event boasts one of college golf’s strongest fields annually, and this year is no different. Four of Golfweek‘s preseason top six teams are playing at Olympia Fields this week (as our eight of the top 13, if we expand it out).
Alabama, Golfweek‘s preseason No. 12, was expected to make a push in 2017-18 after a 2016-17 campaign marred by injuries. The Crimson Tide came on strong late last season with better health and brought in a heralded freshman class this year.
So far, so good. Alabama was actually tied for the lead in regulation at its season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate before falling in a playoff to Georgia Tech.
They’ll look to close out the win this time Sunday.
The Crimson Tide has relied a good deal on Riley and Jonathan Hardee (T-5, 3 under) through 36 holes but has also seen steady contributions from the remainder of the lineup.
Every Alabama player is in the top half of the 78-man field, as freshman Davis Shore sits T-32 at 5 over and Lee Hodges and Josh Sedeno are both T-37 at 6 over.
Baylor, Golfweek‘s preseason No. 2, is second at 3 over, led by Braden Bailey (T-5, 3 under) and Garrett May (T-8, 1 under).
Texas A&M, a preseason No. 11, is third at 6 over while No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Illinois ate T-4 at 7 over. The Fighting Illini boast one of the players closest to the lead, as Nick Hardy sits T-2 at 6 under.
The other player in runner-up position is Shintaro Ban of UNLV, a team that is tied for seventh at 15 over.