Host Vanderbilt will have its eye on a repeat at the Mason Rudolph Championship this year, but it will have to top the No. 1 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings – Alabama.
The Commodores won by nine strokes last year at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., over a field that did not include the Crimson Tide.
This year’s field includes Alabama (No. 1), Ball State, College of Charleston, East Tennessee State, Florida State (No. 20), Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State (No. 36), Louisville, Mercer (No. 35), Middle Tennessee State, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Vanderbilt (No. 12) and Western Kentucky.
Alabama won the first five events of its season and has finished in the top five of every tournament its played this year. The nation’s top team wanted to come out on top at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters among a strong field in early March, but left Las Vegas with a T-4 showing.
“We’ve had a lot of good things happen. We’ve won a lot of tournaments,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “Golf is a game of imperfect, and when we have such a streak we put a mindset of win and that’s all we can do. If we lose we’re just terrible or something. It’s been nice to go through a stretch here to remind us that golf is a hard game, and preparation is very important.”
The Crimson Tide took the week off for spring break following their runner-up finish at the Linger Longer Invitational on March 23. Seawell said he was impressed with his team in practice after the break.
“It was a good week of golf,” Seawell said. “We were on the road for a good stretch there, 17 to 19 days. It puts a strain on you mentally and physically with the school work and things like that. It was nice to have a week break for spring break. I didn’t see the guys. They weren’t on campus. Some went to the beach. Some went skiing. (Monday) was our first day back and it was nice to see some energy again.”
Florida State is also coming into the tournament on a nice run. The Seminoles have two runner-up finishes and a win this year behind standout freshman Jack Maguire. The rookie owns a 69.67 stroke average in the spring.
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