Men's preview: No. 1 Alabama
2011-12 Golfweek/Sagarin rank: 1
Go-to guy: Justin Thomas
Season outlook: The Crimson Tide are coming off a season when they won five times, captured the SEC and NCAA Southeast Regional titles and finished runner-up to Texas at the NCAA finals. There isn’t a lineup in the nation that can boast a stronger leading trio.
The Tide returned their top three players from last season: Haskins Award winner Justin Thomas, Sunnehanna Amateur champion and U.S. Amateur medalist Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett.
Add junior Scott Strohmeyer and senior Trey Mullinax, who won the Northern Amateur this summer, and ’Bama is solid from top to bottom.
“I think we have great possibilities this season,” said Alabama head coach Jay Seawell. “The big question will be who fills the void of Hunter (Hamrick) and is going to step up as the leader of Alabama golf. I think we learned a lot over the last two NCAAs, from our meltdown in 2011 to our second place last season. We need to put those behind us but use the experience as motivation.”
Thomas and Wyatt not only will be battling for the top spot in the Tide’s lineup. They also are two leading contenders for the Haskins and Hogan awards. Thomas won their matchup in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur by the smallest of margins, 1 up. Thomas, who will represent the U.S. at the World Amateur Team Championship, advanced to the U.S. Amateur semifinals after making the Western Amateur’s quarterfinals. Wyatt also had a stellar summer, winning the Sunnehanna and earning medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur, finishing second at the Southern and Players and in the top-5 at the Dogwood and Northeast.