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May 29, 2018

Jonathan Hardee

Lee Hodges

Davis Riley

Jay Seawell

Stillwater, Oklahoma

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the first of our two national championship finalist teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide. We have head coach Jay Seawell, student athletes Jonathan Hardee, Lee Hodges and Davis Riley. Congratulations, Coach, and if you would talk about obviously a great effort here this afternoon. Two matches today; talk about the full day for you and your team.

JAY SEAWELL: First, it was a very long day, as the NCAA has become. But a good day. I think the emotion of the day with everybody in the morning kind of just relaxed everybody, and we got off to a good start, and we kind of got -- in the middle of the round we kind of got up on Duke a little bit and were able to hit some great golf shots, so our guys I think just fed off what happened in the morning, and I'm proud of them. It's a big opportunity they have before them that very few people ever get to do. I'm excited for the guys. They worked tremendously hard. I'm thankful for Coach Howell and what he does with the guys, also. You work your whole life to do this. They've done it for a short time. I've done it for a long time. I'm just proud. That's my statement.

Q. Davis, talk a little bit about your day. Talk about the excitement going to the national championship match.
DAVIS RILEY: Yeah, it was really exciting. This is my third national championship, my first match play, first time to make match play, so that was always a big goal of mine, and now here we are competing for a national championship. But yeah, it was a good day. The battle with the guys was really good. I felt like we were playing with an edge. Every time I looked at everybody, it's like they were pumped up, so it just pumped me up, too. It looked like everybody was playing good, so it pushed me to play better. It was a really good day.

Q. Jonathan, along that same line, talk about being a senior, to be able to accomplish the goal of getting to the championship match tomorrow for yourself.
JONATHAN HARDEE: It means a lot. It means the world to me to be a part of this team, first of all, but it's been a long, good four years, and to get to match play my senior year and play some good golf with my best friends is -- it just means the world to me. It couldn't be a better feeling, and we're just really excited to be in the situation that we're in, and really looking forward to the opportunity that tomorrow brings.

Q. I know you're only a junior, but talk about yourself being able to -- was this your goal coming in? Did you think realistically that you could be in the championship match tomorrow?
LEE HODGES: We have a great team. You know, we've got a bunch of really good freshmen, and they're special kids. They don't play like freshmen, and we've got good leadership up at the top. Me and Jonathan are seniors and Davis is a junior, and we have a great team, and I thought the whole time we were going to have a great run here.

Q. Can you compare what the experience was like going to the finals with the 2012 and '14 teams compared to what it's like with this team?
JAY SEAWELL: The similar part is the thrill. The journey. And so I'm not less excited, more -- I feel exactly the same. There's a part of me that almost can't believe it, not because I don't believe in them. I mean, it's just so hard to do. It really is. But there's a part of me at the SEC's knew this day would be here, at the same time. Something clicked during the match play of the SEC's, and I'm thankful that the SEC changed their format to this because I think the greatest thing about match play is it makes a team. You're playing for one point. Davis won 6 & 5, but that's still just one point today.

I will never take this for granted, so I feel as excited as I did in 2012 when the first time we did this. I feel exactly the same. I'm just really proud for the guys. It's a player's game. I get to drive the van. I love coming to work every day and doing all the things that we do because these are special kids. And I think we forget sometimes how hard people work just to be -- to have this opportunity, and I'm thankful that I get a front row seat to that.

Q. What do you think clicked at SEC's?
JAY SEAWELL: I think trust. I've always believed that a team -- you can have a whole bunch of good players and talent, but you've got to trust each other and believe in the other guy is doing to do his job when he gets punched in the knows, if he's one down or two down, and we were down 5-0 to Vanderbilt in the first few holes. It was early, but it was still early, and how they responded. I didn't give a pep talk. They're playing. They went out and flipped that match, and we beat them on the last hole, a very good Vanderbilt team. I think from that match on, I've just seen that we became a team. Really did.

The young guys became a part of the old guys, and the old guys became a part of the young guys, and as a coach, there's nothing more satisfying.

Q. Jay, we've only seen one other 5-0 scoring margin in match play. How hard is that to do, and what does that say about how your team is playing right now?
JAY SEAWELL: We played some phenomenal golf from about hole 7 to about 14 or 15. I had one message on 7. It was a tight match on 7, and it's a long day. It's hard to keep the energy. We were tired. I was tired, I know that. I just told them, we may lose this match, but we're not going to get out-positived. We're going to be more positive than them. We're going to have positive energy even if we're 1-down, and I'm not saying that flipped it, but for whatever reason, from the 7th hole on, that's as good a golf as we played. We've been waiting as a team -- we talked about it, we still haven't played our best all year. We talked about that last night. But we could feel it coming. A little bit of it happened this afternoon.

Q. For any of the players, is there anything game-wise that changed from stroke play to match play that caused you to dominate today?
JONATHAN HARDEE: I think we talked about last night, just the players, and we kind of said that this is a totally different golf tournament. We start at zero, and the game plan changes. We play one hole at a time, and every hole is basically a round of a boxing match, and you're just trying to win as many rounds as you can and see who comes out on top with the win, and I think that helped us with our positive energy, like Coach said, and our attitudes. Just knowing that one hole is only one hole, that just because you have one bad hole doesn't mean you leave that hole 5-down. You can only get one hole back one at a time, and I think that was something big we talked about last night that was really key to our game plan today.

Q. What have you seen different from Wilson's play? What's changed for him?
JAY SEAWELL: He's good. Karsten Creek has a reputation for a reason. There's a lot of crosses out there. It's killed a lot of good players. You hit one just small foul ball, and it'll get you. But I think all the guys just believed in him. Nobody was down yesterday. He wasn't down. I think that's what makes Wilson special. He probably is -- I'm not going to say -- it's not fair to say he's the best teammate. He shot 80 and he was in a great mood because his team had accomplished what it wanted to accomplish, and that's a credit to him, his attitude, and I think that -- like I said, we became a team. It wasn't like, poor me, or whatever. I think he just started at zero again, and he didn't have to worry about if he hit it in the hay, just pick it up and move to the next hole. I think that's what we kind of told him. We left him alone and said, hey, you're a great player, we believe in you. Just go play. And if you mess up, you don't have to play that hole anymore.

Q. You're playing for a national championship tomorrow, and you're playing Oklahoma State, the No. 1 team in the country, on their golf course. How fired up are you for this opportunity?
LEE HODGES: Yeah, I mean, it's amazing. Still can't believe it, really. It's a dream come true. I know it is for everybody up here. But it's amazing. There are a good lot of people here watching. Me and coach Howell talked about it all day today, why not us. That's how we're going to go into tomorrow.

JONATHAN HARDEE: Yeah, I mean, it's an awesome opportunity. They've had an incredible year on the golf course, and they're a really good team. They've got a lot of accomplishments. But we're a good team, too, and we're playing this golf course well right now, and I think this is college golf. We just give it everything we've got and see who comes out on top tomorrow.

DAVIS RILEY: Yeah, it was really cool. I thought it was kind of special to come early to see the girls, seeing what they experienced, being in their shoes. I know they're playing for a national championship, watching how hard they worked, and it kind of sucked for them to lose in the end, but that kind of almost self-motivated me more. I know on behalf of myself. But yeah, it was cool to see them, and yeah, I mean, there will be a lot of Oklahoma State people out there. Yeah, we're just going to try to block out the noise and just play like we have been all week.

Q. (Indiscernible) hit the shots before you guys. Has Alabama golf been (indiscernible) before?
LEE HODGES: Yeah, absolutely. Coach will tell you what we're going to experience tomorrow, what we're going to face, and I think we'll be ready for what comes. He's been very successful up to this point, so I'm sure we'll get a lot of good information from him tonight and just be ready for tomorrow.

JAY SEAWELL: Well, it'll be a little bit more of a road game tomorrow than it was in Kansas, but they brought buses there, too. This is a great venue, not just because of the golf course but because of how they support their team. I appreciate that. I really do. As a golf coach and a guy that loves the game, I appreciate how they love their team, their cowboys, and we realize that tomorrow we're going to hit a lot of good shots and won't hear a single thing except for maybe a mom and a dad, so I know that's coming, and there's nothing wrong with it. That's what makes it great. So we'll share a little bit what happened in Kansas a little bit because they probably had a couple thousand people in Kansas and we had like 100. So it'll be a lot more than that tomorrow. But there's still five guys playing golf, and that's what we've tried to talk about the whole time. It's about playing golf. It's not more than that, it's not less than that. It's all it is. I like the way my guys play golf, and if they'll just do what they do, I think we can give them a heck of a match, because they are a great team.

Now, we do have something. I've been worried about saying it. They're Driven and #golfschool, and I say we're un-Drives and a #footballschool, I guess. I thought I'd just finally say that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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