Player Diary: Alabama's Justin Thomas (Part 4)
The last two weeks have been pretty hectic. We basically went back-to-back tournaments to finish our fall season. We got back from our home tournament (Jerry Pate Intercollegiate) on Tuesday afternoon, then we had to get caught up on school work in just two days as we left on Friday for the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational.
The Jerry Pate is played in Birmingham, Ala., and it is our host event so it is very important to us. Not that any of the other events aren’t, but with the event being so close to home where Alabama alumni can come and support us, it really means a lot.
We had a very intense showdown with Florida coming down the stretch. Due to frost issues the first day, we were not able to complete all 36 holes that we intended on playing. Because of that, we had to finish the next morning then play with the same groups with a 30 minute break between our 2nd and 3rd rounds. That meant Florida and us were on opposite sides of the course to finish.
We fought back extremely hard, as Scott Strohmeyer was 5-over thru 5 holes and fought back to shoot 1-over on the day, and Bobby Wyatt birdied No. 16, and the brutal par-3 17th to finish strong for us to be in the clubhouse with Florida still out on the course. It was good enough for us to win by four, and we got our first win of the season. It was a great all-around effort by the team, and it was also great for us at our home tournament to sweep the hardware. I won medalist by one. Both Bobby Wyatt (T-4) and Cory Whitsett (10th) notched top-10s as well.
This gave us a little momentum going into Isleworth, our last tournament of the fall. Isleworth is one of my favorite courses, along with the rest of my teammates. It is a very difficult course, and they set it up even more difficult than all other events. Having teams like Cal and Texas there was a good test to see where we stood as a team. We struggled a bit the first two days as we could not get off to good starts. Each day we hung in there, well enough to be down nine going into the last day, and gave ourselves a chance.
Great rounds by both Tom Lovelady (69), and Trey Mullinax (71) gave us a great chance. We got as close as four shots from the leaders, but just ran out of holes. We shot 2-under the final day, and ended up finishing third. I played pretty solid all week, but had few stretches of a bulky putter, which hurt me at times, but I finished well to come in a tie for second. It was a great charge we made and gives us some positives going into the off season.
Congrats to fellow Golfweek blogger Max Homa and the California Golden Bears, on an impressive win over a great field, and going 5 for 5 in the fall. Also, congrats to sophomore Michael Kim from Cal, who won his first collegiate event shooting 4-under-par for the tournament.
I can’t believe the fall season is already over, but it has been a lot of fun as always. We all look forward to evaluating our games and seeing what we need to improve on to make another national championship run in the spring.
I will continue to update y’all on things we do during off season, and what we do for time off. The golf team is being awarded our SEC Championship rings at half time of the Alabama vs. Mississippi State football on Saturday, which will be awesome. It will be a great way for us to start the off season.