Alabama Leads NCAA Men's Golf Championship

By: Kim Allen Email
By: Kim Allen Email

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Illinois sophomore Thomas Pieters shot a final-round 71 to win the men's NCAA Division I golf championship Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

Pieters finished at 5-under 208, three shots better than Julien Brun of TCU and Florida's Tyler McCumber.

Alabama went wire-to-wire in stroke play to grab the No. 1 seed going into Friday's match play. The Crimson Tide finished with a three-day total of 7-over par 859. UCLA finished second, two shots behind. Texas, San Diego State -- California, Washington and Oregon earned the other spots.

Florida State and Kent State finished tied for the eighth and final spot. They will return Friday morning and all five team members will play sudden death with the best four scores counting.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - The Alabama men's golf team qualified for the match play portion of the NCAA Championships on Thursday with a 3-over-par round of 285 for a 7-over-par total of 859 to finish on top of the stroke-play portion of the 2012 NCAA Championships at the Riviera Country Club.

"Once again (the team) did what they have done all year long, when someone pulled up beside them or got in front of them, they played some serious golf," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "I'm really proud to be the No. 1 seed - it is a big deal."

The Crimson Tide beat UCLA by two strokes after the Bruins shot 1-over 285 on Thursday for a 9-over total of 861. Alabama will face the eighth seed in match play beginning at 12 p.m. on Friday. Florida State and Kent State will have a playoff for that spot beginning at 10 a.m. Friday after finishing tied at 23-over 875.

"As the spring has gone on we have gotten leads and extended them," Hunter Hamrick said after the round. "That is what we have tried to learn all spring. I guess if you practice it enough it comes through when you need it."

Texas finished third in stroke play at 17-over 869 with California and San Diego State tied for fourth at 19-over-par 871. Washington will be the sixth seed after shooting 872 with Oregon seventh at 873.

Sophomore Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide individually with a tie for fourth at 1-under-par 212. He shot even-par 71 in the third round. Freshman Justin Thomas shot 2-over-par 73 on Thursday to finish tied for seventh at even-par 213.

Hamrick, a senior from Montgomery, Ala., played his final stroke play round at Alabama in 1-under-par 70 to pace UA in the final round. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes to post a tie for 22nd at 3-over-par 216. Bobby Wyatt shot 2-over 73 Thursday while Scott Strohmeyer carded a 75.

"It was great to be able to go out there and play like that in my last stroke play college round," Hamrick said. "It was a lot of fun making birdie on 16 and 17. It will be a good memory."

Following the round, Thomas was named the winner of the Mickelson Award, which goes to the most outstanding freshman in Division I golf. He was also selected as a PING/GCAA First-Team All-American.

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