ATHENS, Ga. – Top-seeded Alabama got off to the hot start it was looking for on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Athens Regional with a 15-under-par round of 269 to take the lead on the par-71, 7,253-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
“I think the faster the start, you have the more relaxed you become,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said following Thursday’s first round. “If you get off to a poor start, you start thinking about what can happen. But a good start kept us in the golf frame of mind instead of the qualifying frame of mind. All five guys got off to a good start, and I’m really proud of them.”
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The second-ranked Crimson Tide has a two-shot lead ahead of second-seeded North Florida, who carded a 13-under-par 271. East Carolina is third with an 8-under 276 with Georgia shooting 4-under 280 on their home course.
Houston and North Carolina-Wilmington round of the top five at 2-under-par 282. The top-five teams at the end of three rounds will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Two-time defending national champion Augusta State is one spot out of qualifying in sixth at 1-under-par 283 with Wake Forest in eighth at even par.
Alabama received five good rounds from its starting lineup on Thursday, counting four scores in the 60s while being able to drop junior Scott Strohmeyer’s even-par 71. The Tide boasts four players in the top 10 heading into Friday’s second round at the UGA Golf Course.
Bobby Wyatt led the way and is tied for second individually with a 5-under-par 66, one shot back of UNF’s Kevin Aylwin. He went out in 1-under 34 but caught fire over on the back nine, making four birdies on the final six holes, including three straight on the 13th, 14th and 15th.
SEC Player of the Year Justin Thomas was one shot back of Wyatt in a tie for fifth at 4-under 67. He made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine and made the turn at 3-under. He also birdied the 12th and made eight pars on the back side.
Senior Hunter Hamrick and sophomore Cory Whitsett are tied for 10th after opening-round 68s. Whitsett also made four birdies in five holes on the front side while Hamrick shot 2-under on the front and 1-under on the back. Strohmeyer is tied for 26th at even par.
In all, the Crimson Tide made an astounding 25 birdies in the first round with 10 bogeys and nothing worse.