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June 3, 2012

Tide falls in golf title match

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. | The University of Alabama men's golf team came up just short on Sunday in the finals of the NCAA Men's Golf Championships at the Riviera Country Club, losing on the final hole to Texas 3-2.

"It seemed like we were down all day and we battled back," Alabama coach Jay Seawell said, "But it is still hard to lose."

Texas won the deciding match as Dylan Frittelli sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Crimson Tide sophomore Cory Whitsett 1-up.

"We wouldn't be here without (Whitsett)," Seawell said. "He didn't do anything wrong. Dylan played really well."

Whitsett squared the match with a birdie on the par-5 17th, but drove the ball in the left rough on 18 and left his approach in the rough on the back left of the green. He then took two chips to get on the green before Frittelli's winning putt.

"I am not as mad at that shot (the first chip) as the shots that led up to it," Whitsett said following the round. "You can't be in that position. I didn't hit a good tee shot. Dylan played great and I didn't take advantage of some opportunities."

The Crimson Tide got the first two points on the board with a 6&5 win from senior Hunter Hamrick. The Montgomery native got up early and never looked back.

Sophomore Bobby Wyatt, from Mobile, then jarred in a dramatic birdie chip on 18 to defeat Toni Hakula, 1-up. Wyatt came to the 17th hole 1 down but hit a 3-wood to within 4 feet and made the putt for eagle to set up his chip-in on 18.

Texas posted a 3&2 win in the fourth match that pitted Alabama's Justin Thomas against UT freshman Jordan Spieth. The Crimson Tide also fell in match three as junior Scott Strohmeyer lost 2&1 to Cody Gribble.

Alabama saw its most successful season in the history of the men's golf program come up one hole short of its goal. The Crimson Tide recorded the school's best finish with the runner-up showing, won its third SEC championship, won the school's second regional title and finished first in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA championship, 10 shots clear of Texas.

Thomas won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's most outstanding golfer and was a first-team PING All-American. Whitsett and Wyatt are first-team All-SEC choices while Hamrick is a second-team selection.


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