St. Simons Island, GA and Tuscaloosa, AL (KAIT) - The Razorbacks and Lady Razorbacks are off to a good start in the SEC Golf Championships
Thanks in part to a three-under-par first day by senior Dalton Owens, the University of Arkansas men's golf team shot a school record round and is in first place after the first round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships being played at the Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. Owens' performance places him in a tie for the top individual performance on the first day.
The Razorbacks counted 11 birdies, three bogeys and three double bogeys to achieve their first-day score of 278, two strokes ahead of Auburn and Florida in the team standings. South Carolina and Mississippi State round out the top five and are four strokes behind Arkansas' two-under-par first day. The Razorbacks' team score is two strokes better than Arkansas' 1995 squad who shot a final round 280 on way to Arkansas' only SEC Championship in its 18-year history in the conference.
"I thought that we played well today," Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "Dalton had a fantastic round. We knew that he had the ability and today he showed it. You can't win the championship on the first day, but you can lose it and we are in a position to win right now. We had a couple of double bogeys in the round, but overall we are playing well. We need to make some puts and keep shooting well tomorrow."
Owens got off to a great start with a birdie on his second hole, the par four 11th. He gave that shot back on the 12th hole with a bogey, but birdied 13, 15 and 17 to shoot three under for the first nine holes. Playing consistent golf for the rest of his day, Owens shot even par on his final nine holes to tie for the tournament lead with Bryden Macpherson of Georgia. Owens' round also matches the third best score by any Razorback for a single round at the SEC Championships.
Freshman and former Jonesboro High standout Austin Cook was the only other Razorback to shoot under par on Friday as he posted a solid one under despite a double bogey in the middle of his round. Even par through six holes, Cook birdied the par four 16th, but a double bogey on 18 put him at one over. Cook would settle down as he moved to the front of the course and birdie holes four and five, both par fours, to move to one under, a score that places him in a 10-way tie for fourth overall.
Senior David Lingmerth, Arkansas leader in stroke average this season, shot even par for the day with a pair of birdies and a double bogey. Hitting his sub-par holes on a pair of par fours, 14 and 18, Lingmerth gave both strokes back on the par four second. The Swede knocked in 15 pars in his round as his consistent play shined on the first day.
Arkansas' scoring four was completed by freshman Josh Eure who ended the day two-over-par. Eure had an interesting start to his day with a bogey on his second hole, birdies on his third and fourth and a double bogey on his fifth, but pulled his game together to hit 12 straight pars before a bogey on his last hole placed him at two over, 72.
Junior Jamie Marshall was Arkansas' fifth player with a score of three-over par. Marshall posted a bogey on his first hole and then was credited with a double bogey on the par four 14th. Back-to-back birdies on the 16 and 17th hole placed him at one over, but a bogey on the 18th followed by a bogey on his final hole placed him outside the scoring four.
The Razorbacks are back on the links on Saturday morning with a 7:50 a.m. start.
The No. 35 University of Arkansas women's golf team started strong and rallied in the final holes grabbing a share of the lead after the first round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Women's Golf Tournament at NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday.
The Razorbacks were among the leaders at the turn and low scores on the second nine helped the Razorbacks into a tie for the lead with No. 15 Georgia with an opening round 280. The four-under score on the par 71, 6,057-yard course is Arkansas' lowest first-round score of the year and the first sub-par opening score of the year for the Razorbacks.
"I think the golf course sets up really well for us," head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. "We prepare at a hard golf course at home and it's very demanding off the tees. We just did a great job and I'm really pleased."
Junior Kelli Shean paced the Razorbacks with a first-round two-under 69. Shean was plus-one on the front nine and was three-under on the back with birdies on holes 11, 12, 13 and 15.
Shean finished the day with five birdies, tying three other players for the most in the round.
Senior Alex Schulte made her return to the lineup after a wrist injury sidelined her for much of the spring. Schulte and freshman Victoria Vela were both one-under with 70s and are tied for seventh overall.
"I think Vicky finished three, three, three and Kelli was under par on this (the second) side," Estes-Taylor said. "Kristin (Ingram) made some really clutch putts coming down the stretch and that was important for us and Tiffany (Phelps) hung in there as well. This group has worked hard. I've said it all along. We've worked since Aug. 24 to be in this position. We have a little bit of work to do before tomorrow but we're in a good spot."
Ingram, who struggled a bit in the early spring, carded an even-par 71 and is tied for 14th overall. Phelps is tied for 33rd with a 74 in the first round. Ingram had 15 pars in the first round tying for the most on the day.
The course is in great condition with wide, tree-lined fairways, ideal for Arkansas who is straight off the tees. The greens were inconsistent, some fast, others slow, but Arkansas seemed to putt well all day.
The Razorbacks are scheduled for the second flight of tee times beginning at 9:20 a.m. from the first hole. Arkansas is paired with Georgia and Vanderbilt with Phelps going out first for Arkansas. She is followed by Ingram, Schulte, Vela and Shean at 10 a.m.
"We have a good game plan in place," Estes-Taylor said of the next round. "There are a couple holes we'll talk about tonight like hole 10. I think we want to go a bit more to the right off the tee. But we've seen this course before and have a good feel about where we want to go off the tee."
The rest of the field includes No. 20 Vanderbilt, No. 17 LSU and Ole Miss tied for third with 284, followed by No. 6 Alabama in sixth with 287. South Carolina, ranked No. 30, and No. 4 Auburn are tied for seventh overall with 289 while No. 19 Florida and No. 16 Tennessee are tied for ninth with 298. Kentucky with 302 and Mississippi State with 309 round out the team scores