April 23rd, 2012

St. Xavier Grad Wins SEC Championship

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

St. Xavier Grad Wins SEC Championship
photo from golfweek.com

Alabama freshman Thomas ties conference score record

Success on the golf course is nothing new for St. Xavier High School alum Justin Thomas.

A Kentucky individual state champion in 2009 as a member of the St. X team, the former Tiger also has a Junior Ryder Cup championship on his resume and has reached the US Amateur Tournament match play round of 32 in consecutive years.

Over the weekend, the University of Albama freshman Thomas added another impressive notch to his belt when he shot a final-round 68 to capture the Southeastern Conference overall men's golf individual championship at Sea Island Golf Club Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, GA.

Thomas becomes just the third individual SEC medalist in Crimson Tide program history after a three-round score of 68-67-68 - 203.

"Justin has had a remarkable season and that was evident today," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "What he has done this year is truly amazing, and he has put himself in the mix for both SEC and National Player of the Year honors." 

Thomas' play also led UA to the overall team conference championship, and for the second time in 60 years, the second-ranked Alabama men's golf team swept both the team and individual titles on Sunday at the SEC Men's Golf Championship. 

"The team did a fantastic job today," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "It got a little nerve racking toward the end when it got close, but the guys did a great job down the stretch. It was exciting to see how our team responded when challenged in the final round of an event like the SEC Championships. You really saw what they were made of over the last four or five holes." 

The Crimson Tide finished at 12-under-par 828 as a team on the par-70, 6,898 yard Seaside Golf Course at the Sea Island Golf Club. The 828 was the second-lowest team score in the history of the SEC Championship (827 by Georgia, 2006). Alabama led the tournament from wire-to-wire, never relinquishing the lead.

Thomas, who is from Goshen, won his school-record tying third tournament of the season, while teammate Bobby Wyatt finished second, just two strokes off Thomas' pace. The duo's final combined score was significant toward the team's championship total.

"We wanted to play well for the team, not just as an individual," Thomas told the SEC Digital Network after the win. "This is team golf and we were just trying to play good enough to keep the team ahead. It was good enough, so we're pumped."

Thomas joins an elite group of Crimson Tide golfers that have won a SEC Championship, including Bobby Hill (1952) and Michael Thompson (2008). Thomas finished the weekend at 7-under-par 203, which equals the lowest individual score to win SEC's since it moved to Sea Island in 2001 (Florida's Brett Stegmaier, 2003).

Next up for Thomas and the Crimson Tide is NCAA Regionals action on May 17-19 at one of six regional sites. But for now, the St. X grad will just enjoy his newest edition to the golf resume after an unforgettable rookie season with Alabama.

Said Thomas: "It's awesome. The SEC is a great conference and it's going to be real sweet riding home on that plane with that SEC championship trophy on our laps."


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