Men’s golf team on the upswing; End season on high note at nationals
Posted on Jun 13, 2012 in Sports
After a disappointing men’s basketball and football season, Blazer fans have found a new pride in the men’s golf team.
The UAB men’s golf team closed play in third place at the 2012 NCAA Stanford Regional with a team score of 10-under par 830 (278-274-278). The three rounds were among the top five rounds of the season for the Blazers.
UAB recorded some of its top scores in program history at the three-day, 54-hole event, which was held at the Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.
On May 29, the Blazers competed in the 2012 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships in Los Angeles, Calif., as the 29th seed in a 30-team tournament. They are currently ranked 34th in the nation.
The five golfers for UAB include: Hunter Hawkins, Thomas Sutton, Sam Love, Paul Dunne and Wilson McDonald.
Thomas Sutton said next year looks just as good. “I think it’s exciting knowing we have three sophomores, one freshman and a junior and we’ve all been playing well,” Sutton said. “Next year looks good, and the year after that looks good.
Dunne, Love, Sutton, Hawkins and senior Jason Shufflebotham carded a team score of six-under par 274 in the Stanford Regional. They set a school record for lowest score in a regional.
Shufflebotham will not play. Instead, he will compete in the 2012 Welsh Open as one of only three amateur invites.
“I’m going to be a little bit jealous of the boys playing at Riviera, that’s for certain,” said Shufflebotham, who was redshirting on UAB’s 2008 NCAA Nationals team.
Shufflebotham, the team captain, is the only senior. He played a vital role in the Blazers gaining a berth in the NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals.
Sam Love said the team is still strong without Shufflebotham.
“He was definitely a good player, and he helped us out. But we have a top six that everybody plays pretty much the same,” Love said. “I don’t think losing Shuff, even for nationals, is going to hurt us that much. We still have the potential to play just as good, if not better, with the five we have now.”
The 23-year-old from Presatyn, Wales, earned his degree in communication management from UAB in December. He wanted to return home to work on starting his professional golf career.
UAB head coach Alan Kaufman tried to convince Shufflebotham to stay.
“I sold him hard on the importance of him staying, not only for himself, but the respect that other players had for him,” said Kaufman. “He is our team captain. I thought in the long run, it was the right thing for him to do.”
With six NCAA regional appearances, this is the fourth time Kaufman has led the Blazers to the National tournament.
Kaufman said he is thrilled with the team he has this year.
“The team’s played real consistent all year. Time after time, we have had guys step up. We do not have a superstar on this team, but we have very good golfers. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
The men’s golf team finished 29th in the tournament but it has proven that the players have a bright future for the next year with the five NCAA competitors returning for action next season.