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October 31, 2014

Mark Edwards: Amazing Tide golf surge includes lots of instate talent

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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:12 pm

Until recently, the University of Alabama wasn't exactly a men's golf power.

It used to be an afterthought of a sport, usually coached by an assistant football coach. In fact, during 1958-60, Gene Stallings -- later the coach of Alabama's 1992 national football champions -- served as the Tide's head golf coach.

As a result, Alabama didn't even win the Southeastern Conference until 1979. The next league title didn't come until 2008. The last three have belonged to the Crimson Tide.

Alabama never threatened in the NCAA tournament until 1975 when future PGA Tour star Jerry Pate led the Tide to a third-place finish. The 2007 squad was sixth.

Then in 2012, Alabama was NCAA runner-up before winning it in 2013 and 2014.

Who saw this coming? Maybe the most amazing part of this sudden surge by Alabama golf is that the Tide is winning with guys from Alabama. The five-player lineup for the 2012 finals included four players from instate (Mobile’s Bobby Wyatt, Auburn’s Scott Strohmeyer and Montgomery’s Hunter Hamrick), one from Texas (Cory Whitsett) and another from Kentucky (Justin Thomas).

In 2013, Hamrick had graduated and was replaced by Gardendale’s Trey Mullinax. This year, Strohmeyer and Thomas are gone and have been replaced by Wilmer’s Robby Shelton and Mountain Brook’s Tom Lovelady, which means 80 percent of Alabama’s most recent national championship lineup came from within our own borders.

Nick Saban can’t make that claim with Alabama football.

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