MILTON, Ga. — Showing again it’s more than just a football school, Alabama won its first national championship in men’s golf on Sunday, routing Illinois 4-1 in the match play final and making up for a runner-up finish last year.
Bobby Wyatt got the Crimson Tide off to a strong start in the first match at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course north of Atlanta. He won the first seven holes on the way to a 6-and-5 blowout of Thomas Detry.
Alabama also got comfortably ahead in the final match as Cory Whitsett went 5-up by the turn and cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over Alex Burge. The middle three matches were much tighter — each of them all-square at one point coming down the stretch, giving Illinois a glimmer of hope at improbably pulling out its first national title.
But Trey Mullinax, after squandering chances to pull ahead with three-putts at the 14th and 16th, two-putted from 60 feet for a par at the 18th for a 1-up victory over Charlie Danielson. The Illinois player missed the green with his approach, chipped up to about 10 feet, but rolled the putt past the right lip of the cup for a bogey.
When Mullinax knocked down his 3-footer, a huge roar went up from the predominantly Alabama crowd that could be heard by the other groups still on the course. When Burge missed a 15-foot par putt at the 15th, he conceded Whitsett’s short bogey attempt to end that match.
Up ahead on the 16th green, at essentially the same time, Scott Strohmeyer rolled in a 3-footer for par to beat Brian Campbell 3-and-2. Thomas Pieters, the 2012 individual champion, earned the Fighting Illini’s point with a 1-up victory over Alabama’s top-ranked player, Justin Thomas.
That wasn’t nearly enough to halt the Tide, which had been on a mission ever since losing to Texas in last year’s final. The Tide’s athletic program has won plenty of titles beyond the fairway and gridiron. Over the last two academic years, Alabama has also won national championships in women’s golf, softball and gymnastics.