BALL GROUND, Ga. – The Alabama men's golf team brings a three tournament winning streak into the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship on March 20-22, at the Hawk's Ridge Golf Club in Ball Ground, Ga.
The Crimson Tide closed the fall schedule with a win at the prestigious Isleworth Collegiate Invitational and then opened the spring with back-to-back wins at the Puerto Rico Classic and the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate.
The recent surge has the Tide up to No. 3 in the most recent Golf World/Nike Coaches' Poll with Alabama receiving five first-place votes behind No. 1 Oklahoma State's eight and No. 2 UCLA's four first-place votes.
"Winning breeds confidence and the more we have won, the better we have done and the more they have believed in each other," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said.
Alabama is playing at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship for the first time since the 2009 season. The Crimson Tide is the tournament's No. 2 seed behind UCLA, who was named the No. 1 seed on the 7,167-yard, par-72 Hawk's Ridge Golf Club.
"Match play is a different format," Seawell said. "You don't play for scores; you are just trying to beat somebody. It's not a format that most young kids in America are used to playing. We are going to have to change their mindset. Your job is to beat the man you are playing and be a better man. It doesn't matter if that is with a four or an eight."
Alabama opens play on Friday in the eighth match against No. 15-seed East Tennessee State. A win for the Crimson Tide would move them into the second round against the winner of the Texas (seven seed) and Duke (10th seed) matchup.
The remainder of the Tide's bracket includes No. 3-seed Georgia Tech, No. 6 Iowa, No. 11 Southern California and No. 14 Washington State. To top side of the bracket features No. 1-seed UCLA against No. 16 South Carolina while No. 8 Georgia plays No. 9 Texas Tech, No. 4 Illinois faces No. 13 Baylor and No. 5 Texas A&M challenges No. 12 Pacific.
"Match play is a different animal than stroke play," Crimson Tide junior Bud Cauley said. "But it will be fun to play a little match play in preparation for the NCAAs."
For the third consecutive year the NCAA champion will be crowned with a combination of stroke play and match play. The 30 teams that qualify for the 2011 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., on May 31-June 5 will play three rounds (54 holes) of stroke play with the top eight teams at the conclusion of stroke play advancing to match play to crown a national champion.
"We feel like we have a championship-type team, and we really want to get them acclimated to this type of event," Seawell said. "It is a little bit different than what you normally do, but it is a good transition for what we are doing before we get to the SECs."
Following the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, the Crimson Tide will have less than a week off before beginning play begins at the Linger Longer Invitational on March 27-29 at the Reynolds Landing Golf Course in Greensboro, Ga.