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    SEC Golf Today: May 17

    Alabama Leads NCAA Athens Regional at 15-Under Par
     
    ATHENS, Ga. – Alabama’s top-seeded men’s golf team got off to the hot start they were looking for 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.”
     
    The second-ranked Crimson Tide has a two-shot lead over 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.
     
    Alabama is scheduled to tee off at 8:10 a.m. (CDT) on Friday and will be playing with North Florida and East Carolina.



    Bulldogs Fourth After First Round Of NCAA Athens Regional

    ATHENS, Ga. - The 24th-ranked Georgia men’s golf team stands fourth after one round of the NCAA Athens Regional being held at the UGA Golf Course.

    On Thursday, the Bulldogs, who are seeded fourth, shot a 4-under-par 280 on the par-71 layout. Top-seeded Alabama opened with a 15-under 269. No. 2 seed North Florida posted a 13-under 271 for second and sixth-seeded East Carolina checked in at 8-under 276 for third.

    The top five teams after three rounds of the Athens Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships May 30-June 3 in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

    “I thought it was a solid start to the tournament,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “We’re right in the mix. We’re in the top five, which is where you want to be. As long as we can stay in the top five, that’s all that matters. We made some birdies coming in, so we’ve got some momentum heading into the second round. I’m pleased with where we are. Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and play another solid round.”

    Junior T.J. Mitchell, now a veteran of three NCAA regionals, paced the Bulldogs with a 3-under 68, including birdies on three of his last four holes. Sophomore Brian Carter followed at 2-under 69, while sophomore Keith Mitchell signed for an even-par 71 and sophomore Joey Garber had a 1-over 72. Freshman Nicholas Reach had the Bulldogs’ non-counting score of 3-over 74.

    North Florida’s Kevin Aylwin grabbed the first-round lead with a 6-under 65. North Florida teammate MJ Maguire, Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt and Houston’s Curtis Reed followed at 5-under 66.

    T.J. Mitchell is 10th in the individual standings, while Carter is 14th, Keith Mitchell is 26th, Garber is 38th and Reach is 53rd.

    The Bulldogs will return to the course at 8:20 a.m. Friday for the second round. Georgia’s players will tee off in 10-minute increments on the first hole. The Bulldogs will be paired with Houston and North Carolina-Wilmington.

    Aylwin’s round included an eagle on the par-4, 356-yard 11th hole, which was his third hole of the day. He followed that effort with three consecutive birdies.

    “I holed out on 11 from 87 yards, and that pretty much got me started,” Aylwin said. There’s a little bit of luck involved, but it definitely was a jumpstart for me. … I thought I was doing pretty well, then I started to hear that everybody else was doing well, so that felt great.”

    Alabama coach Jay Seawell said he was pleased with his team’s opening round.

    “I think the faster the start you have, the more relaxed you become,” Seawell said  “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.”



    UF Men's Golf Wraps Up Play on Day One of NCAA East Regional

    Greensboro, N.C. - The University of Florida men's golf team opened play at the 2012 NCAA East Regional at the Grandover Resort East Course by firing a 299 (+11). For the day, the Gators were led by freshman J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, Fla.) who shot a one-over, 73, to sit in a tie for 15th, six strokes back of Matt Schovee of SMU.

    "It was a tough day for us today," said head coach Buddy Alexander. "There's no real rhyme or reason for it. We've been playing well lately, had a good practice round yesterday and were focused but we just had one of those days. But that's golf and it happens and we're just going to have to come out and do better tomorrow."

    Tomlinson battled through an up-and-down day for his 73, making four birdies against five bogeys. After a slow start of two-over through three holes, Tomlinson responded nicely with birdies at the par-4 fourth and the par-5 sixth to get his round back to even. After a bogey at the seventh caused him to go out in 37, Tomlinson dropped a shot on 12 before gaining it right back with a birdie at the par-5 13th. Another bogey on 15 brought Tomlinson's score back to two-over but the freshman finished his round on a high note with a birdie on the par-5 18th, to post his 73.

    Junior Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) sits in a tie for 24th after posting a two-over, 74, on his opening round. After making the turn at three-over, 39, McCumber righted the ship making eight pars and a birdie on the par-5 13th to come in with a 35 (-1) for his 74.

    Freshman Eric Banks (Truro, Canada) carded a 75 (+3) to post the third score for the Orange and Blue. Banks made three birdies on the day but they were countered by four bogeys and a double.

    Senior Michael Furci (Sayville, N.Y.) and junior T.J. Vogel (Cooper City, Fla.) rounded out the Gators in the field with rounds of 77 and 78, respectively.



    Razorbacks 10th After First Day of Regional
     
    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Sophomore Sebastian Cappelen carded a one-over par, 71, on the first day of the NCAA Bowling Green Regional on Thursday, leading the No. 11 University of Arkansas men’s golf team to a 10th-place finish after the first day of competition at The Club at Olde Stone.  Cappelen’s round has him tied for 11th individually, five strokes off the lead.
                
    The Razorbacks shot a team score of 14-over par, 302, on Thursday for their placing.  No. 3 UCLA leads the way with a score of four-under par and has a 10-stroke lead in the competition.  Chattanooga and Colorado State are tied for second at six-over par with No. 21 Clemson, No. 15 Texas A&M, North Texas and Memphis tied for fourth at seven-over par.  Arkansas’ score has it seven strokes from the top five teams which is where it needs to finish to advance to the NCAA Championship.
                
    “Obviously, I am disappointed with the way that we played today,” Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin said.  “We gave away a lot of strokes over the final four holes of the round and will need to play a lot better over the next two days to qualify for the NCAA Championship.  Fortunately for us, this is a tough course and you can make up strokes in a hurry, but we’ll still need to play well in order to do that.”
                
    Cappelen’s round began with a series of pars before he sank a birdie putt on the fourth hole.  That set off a series of marks that included two more birdies and two bogeys over the next five holes as he closed out the front nine at one-under par.  His back nine saw the Odense, Denmark, native hit seven pars and two bogeys, but no hole was more impressive than Cappelen’s on No. 11.  On the par 5, 533 yarder, Cappelen’s second shot sailed over the green and down a large embankment into deep hazard.  After several minutes of searching, Cappelen found his ball and hit a third shot 30-plus feet into the air where it landed softly on the green.  Cappelen then two-putted to save par on a hole which could have been a big number.
                
    Freshman Thomas Sorensen posted Arkansas’ second best score of the day with a two-over par, 74.  Sorensen had one of the more volatile rounds with four birdies, eight pars and six bogeys, but the first-year player managed his game well and capitalized on a pair of the par fives and a drivable par four.  Back-to-back bogeys for Sorensen on three and four were held in check when he scored two birdies and a bogey on five, six and seven.  Sorensen closed out the front nine with a bogey to make the turn, one-over par.  Five pars later, Sorensen cut the corner on the par four, 437-yard 14th hole and drove the green over water and deep rough which allowed him to two-putt for birdie.  He would close out his round with two more bogeys and a birdie on No. 18.
                
    One bad hole, and more specifically one bad bounce, spoiled what could have been a good round for senior Ethan Tracy.  One-over par through eight holes, Tracy carded a double bogey on No. 9 when his approach shot struck something when it landed and rather than take a normal bounce, shot into the deep rough.  The elder statesman of the Razorback squad played through the bad break and fired a one-over par score on the back nine to finish the round at four-over par, 76.
                
    Junior Austin Cook had a rough start to his round with several missed fairways, but did settle down on the back nine.  Cook’s uncharacteristic tee shots consistently found the rough right of the fairway which led the Jonesboro, Ark., native to shoot six-over par on the front nine.  Finding his groove midway through the round, Cook closed with a back nine of one-over par for an 18-hole score of 79, seven-over par.
                
    The Razorbacks’ final player on Thursday, junior Josh Eure, was able to battle through several errant tee shots on the front nine and still shoot one-over par with two bogeys and a birdie.  He would stay at one-over par through 14 holes, but struggled over the final four holes of the course and closed the round with a score of eight-over par, 80.
                
    The Razorbacks return to the course on Friday morning with a tee time of 8:50 a.m. at The Club at Olde Stone.  Arkansas is paired with Iowa State and Jacksonville State and will start from the 10th tee.



    Gamecocks 10th After Opening Round of NCAA Southwest Regional

    NORMAN, Okla. - The South Carolina men’s golf team posted a 6-over 294 at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club on Thursday to open play at the NCAA Southwest Regional.

    The Gamecocks finished the day in 10th place but are still within reach of a top-five finish, which would send them to the NCAA Championship. Carolina is eight strokes back of breaking into the top five, as St. Mary’s and Washington are tied for fourth with a score of 286 (-2).

    “We still have a chance, obviously,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “We’ve got to play well the next couple of days, but today was pretty disappointing overall. We lost a lot of shots and looked a little bit nervous early in the round. We fought back and had some chances on the last few holes to finish strong but we lost a few there. We are going to have to come out and play better tomorrow. The guys are trying to make some adjustments, and their attitudes are good. ”

    Senior Wesley Bryan led the way with a 3-under 69 to move into a tie for fifth heading into the second round. He trails Texas’ Jordan Spieth by three strokes. Spieth fired a 6-under 66 to take the lead.

    Bryan got off to a strong start with a birdie on hole No. 1. He then reeled off six straight pars before making birdies on his final two holes on the front side to make the turn at 3-under. Bryan moved to as low as five under on the back nine with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. However, he bogeyed 15 and 16 and made par on the final two holes to head into the clubhouse at 3-under.

    Junior Dykes Harbin and freshman Sean Kelly each turned in a 1-over 73 to end the day in a tie for 27th. Both Harbin and Kelly made the turn at 1-under and had identical scores on the back side, as they each recorded one more birdie, three bogeys and five pars.

    Freshmen Will Murphy and Caleb Sturgeon carded rounds of 79 (+7) and 80 (+8), respectively. Murphy is in a tie for 68th, while Sturgeon is in 73rd place.

    Top-ranked Texas and Florida State share the lead heading into the second round after each shooting a 9-under 279 on Friday. Illinois is in third with a score of 284 (-4).



    Strong Finish Boosts Vols to 7th

     
    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Tennessee ended Thursday right where it started, but that meant progress here on the opening day of the NCAA Stanford Regional.
     
    Eighth-seeded UT rallied for an even-par score of 280, good enough for solo seventh place with two rounds remaining. The top five squads from all six regionals being played this week advance to the NCAA Championship Finals in Los Angeles.
     
    It took a homeward charge by the Vols to offset what had been a mostly disappointing front nine at the Stanford Golf Course. Tennessee’s four scoring players played the final three holes in 4 under par, including back-to-back closing birdies by Brandon Rodgers and a pair of dandy up-and-down par saves on No. 18 from Rick Lamb and Garrick Porteous.
     
    “I was proud of their finish,” UT head coach Jim Kelson said. “Brandon hit it to about a foot on No. 18, and then Rick and Garrick made good pars that were important to our finish.
     
    “I was thinking even par was a pretty good score around here, especially if the wind kicks up. But they really played well coming in and overall that was a solid start. We’ve just got to keep getting better every day.”
     
    Jay Vandeventer birdied the opening hole and was in red figures nearly the whole day en route to a 2-under-par 68 that leaves him tied for seventh place individually. Lamb shot 2 under on the back nine to finish at 69, followed by Porteous at 70 and Rodgers at 73. Danny Keddie shot 76.
     
    Surprising San Francisco leads the team standings through 18 holes. The 11th-seeded Dons placed all four scoring golfers in red figures and shot 7-under 273. California is next at 276, followed by host Stanford at 277. A four-way tie for fourth just in front of Tennessee is made up of UAB, Central Florida and Wichita State, all at 2-under 278.
     
    Fast Start, Then Steady
    Vandeventer birdied three of his first five holes to offset his only blemish for the day, bogey at the par-4 second. And he nearly holed a putt there for par after recovering from a poor drive.
     
    “I rolled the ball really well,” Vandeventer said. “There were a few putts where I was unsure of the breaks but I still got them close and nearly had a few more fall for me. Of course everybody always says that so I’m not going to be down at all about today.”
     
    The junior said coming into the week that his game plan was to play as if he had nothing to lose, and Thursday worked to near perfection. Vandeventer ended his round with 13 straight pars for a scorecard of 33-35—68.
     
    “I showed no emotion and never got upset throughout the round. I had some good up-and-downs that boosted my confidence and kept me going.”
     
    Scrambling Lamb
    Lamb was 3 over par through six holes before turning around not only his own fortunes but those of the team as well. The junior played his final 12 holes in 4 under to pull into a tie for 17th place.
     
    “I got off to a rough start but got it together,” Lamb said. “I really didn’t hit my driver all that well but I scrambled. Just like on 18, I was pretty pleased with par from where I was (in the greenside bunker). I just didn’t really make too many mistakes on those last 12 holes.”
     
    Lamb began his run with consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth holes. He added birdies at the par-4 11th and par-5 16th holes to complete his 36-33—69 scorecard.
     
    Scrappy 70
    Porteous played his opening nine in a tidy 34, birdieing the first and then stringing together eight pars. But a couple of sloppy bogeys after the turn spoiled the run and he needed birdie at the par-5 16th to get back to even.
     
    “It was a little scrappy; I didn’t hit my approach shots very well,” Porteous said. “And when I did hit them close I wasn’t seeing the line, I guess. It was playing easy today, but I’ve just got to come back and do the same things I’m doing.”
     
    The senior captain’s scorecard read 34-36—70, which ties him for 27th place.
     
    “I’m happy about the (par) save at the end,” he added. “We’ve just got to keep this momentum going for Friday.”
     
    How to Play Stanford
    A pair of easy birdies gave Rodgers nearly the perfect ending to his round.
     
    “To hit two iron shots inside a foot on the last two holes was great,” the Farragut sophomore said. “I hit the ball great all day. I had a triple on No. 5 but I can chalk that up to course management, to be honest. I just tried to hit the hero shot from trouble. Other than that, I really hit the ball well.”
     
    Rodgers followed the lead of his teammates and played his final 13 holes in 1 under par, with a birdie at the par-5 seventh to go with his two at the end. Rogers’ scorecard of 38-35—73 left him tied for 54th place.
     
    Rodgers sounds like he has the perfect philosophy for the Stanford layout.
     
    “This is a really tough driving course,” he said. “But if you can keep it in play and then play the par-3s, you can shoot a good score.
     
    “The par-3s are really important out here – there are five and the wind swirls on all of them. Hit it in the middle of the green, make your pars and you’re going to shoot a good number if you do those two things.”
     
    Good Vibes for Friday
    No one knows that better than Keddie, who was 6 over on the par-3s Thursday and even par the rest of the way.
     
    “I played them terribly today – hit bad shots on every one,” he said. “I missed two of them in the really bad places and was plugged in another bunker. And I could have played them even worse because I made a really good up-and-down for par on No. 3 from a terrible spot there as well.”
     
    Despite it all, Keddie heads into Friday with a few good vibes. Although his score didn’t count toward the team total thanks to his opening-nine 42, he gave notice with a back-nine 34 not to count him out of the rest of this tournament.
     
    And he nearly holed out from the fairway on No. 18, his ball settling inside a foot from the cup for an easy birdie.
     
    “I was really struggling but made a couple of good putts to steady myself,” said Keddie, who is tied for 68th place. “I shot 34 on the back and I didn’t even play that great. You can score on this course; you’ve just got to keep it in play and hit it in the right spots.”
     
    Early Start
    Tennessee begins Friday’s round from the No. 10 tee at 8 a.m. Pacific time, playing alongside LSU and San Diego State. Those two teams are tied for eighth place at 2-over 282.
     
    Friday’s weather forecast calls sunny skies and temperatures starting in the mid-50s before reaching the low 70s by round’s end. Winds will increase as the day progresses, reaching 10-15 mph toward afternoon.



    Yi Leads, LSU Golfers Tied for Eighth on Day 1 at NCAA Regional
     
    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Senior All-SEC performer and All-America candidate Sang Yi opened the 2012 NCAA Palo Alto Regional by firing a brilliant 4-under par round of 66 in Thursday’s first round to tie for the individual lead with the 54-hole championship being held this weekend at the Stanford Golf Course.
     
    Yi carded five birdies and just one bogey on his round to pace the No. 5-seeded and No. 23-ranked Tigers into a tie for eighth place in the team standings with a score of 2-over par 282 in the opening round.
     
    The No. 11-seeded San Francisco Dons blistered the par-70 layout at the Stanford Golf Course in the first round as they jumped out to an early three-shot lead with an 18-hole team score of 7-under 273. The Dons were led by Mat Miller, Ji Hwan Park and Taylor Travis, who each fired opening-round scores of 2-under par 68 to finish the day two shots behind Yi and BYU’s Zachary Blair in a tie for seventh place.
     
    The No. 7-ranked and No. 1-seeded finished the day in second place in the team standings with a score of 4-under par 276, while the No. 8-ranked and No. 2-seeded Stanford Cardinal fired a team score of 3-under 277 to finish in third place. No. 4 seed Central Florida, No. 6 seed UAB and No. 7 seed Wichita State tied one another for fourth place with matching team scores of 2-under 278 in Thursday’s action.
     
    The top five teams in the final tournament standings and the low individual not among the top five squads following 54 holes of competition will advance to the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships being held May 29-June 3 at historic Riviera Golf Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
     
    While teeing off from the back nine to start the round, Yi fired out of the blocks with a birdie on No. 10 to quickly drop to 1-under par on the day en route to a tournament-low score of 4-under par 66.
     
    Yi then fell to 3-under for his round with birdies at the par-four 13th hole and par-three 17th hole before he gave up his only shot of the day with a bogey at the par-four 18th hole while making the turn at 2-under on the day. After making six-straight pars to start the front nine, Yi dipped into red figures again with birdies at the par-five seventh and par-four ninth holes to finish the day at 4-under 66.
     
    Yi finished the day tied for first place on the leaderboard with BYU’s Zachary Blair, who also carded five birdies with just one bogey on his round while firing a matching score of 4-under 66 on Thursday.
     
    Freshman Curtis Thompson was also impressive in his NCAA Regional debut as he fired a 1-under par 69 to help lead the Tigers in the opening round. Thompson carded one eagle at the par-five seventh as well as three birdies and four bogeys en route to a final score of 1-under 69 on the afternoon.
     
    Fellow freshman Stewart Jolly shot a 2-over 72 to tie for 47th place, while sophomore Andrew Presley had a 5-over 75 to tie for 63rd place and senior Austin Gutgsell posted a 9-over 79 to finish in 74th place.
     
    The Tigers are paired with No. 3-seeded San Diego State and No. 8-seeded Tennessee in the tournament’s second round on Friday as they will tee off in the first wave off the back nine beginning at 10 a.m. CDT. Live scoring of the second and third rounds of the 2012 NCAA Palo Alto Regional will be provided by Golfstat and can be found online throughout the weekend at www.golfstat.com.