ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. --- Top-ranked and top-seeded Alabama grabbed the first-round lead after the first round of the Southeastern Conference Men's Golf Championship on Sea Island's Seaside Course.
The Crimson Tide placed three players in the top eight on Friday as Bobby Wyatt fired a 5-under 65, Robby Shelton posted a 3-under 67 and Cory Whitsett signed for a 2-under 68.
Alabama sports a two-shot lead over No. 26 Auburn (274) and a five-shot advantage over No. 6 Georgia and No. 24 South Carolina (277). No. 21 Arkansas rounds out the top five at even-par 280.
"It was a nice start to the SEC Championship," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "Bobby (Wyatt) led us today, and he just played fantastic. He got under par early and the rest of the team seemed to calm down and follow suit. But this is a 54-hole tournament and all we have done is put ourselves in a good position. There are really good teams within just a few shots, so all we can focus on is playing really good golf tomorrow. We have to be at our best for three rounds."
Wyatt and South Carolina's Matthew NeSmith are atop the individual leaderboard at 5-under 65. The Gamecocks' Will Murphy and Arkansas' Nicolas Echvarria are tied for third at 4-under 66, and Auburn's Niclas Carlsson, LSU's Smylie Kaufman and Shelton are fifth at 3-under 67.
"It is always good to get off to a solid start," Wyatt said. "The first day of SEC is always little intense, everyone wants to win a ring, and a good start just kind of helps everyone settle down and play. Everything just kind of worked for me today. On this golf course you have to be in good position off the tee to attack pins, and sometimes even then all you can do is try to hit it in the middle of the green. I was able to stay away from mistakes today, and take advantage of my good shots."
"I played pretty well," NeSmith said. "I didn't do anything super great and I didn't do anything bad. I just played really solid. I hit a lot of solid shots and was able to make a couple of puts when I needed to. I just didn't make it hard on myself. I didn't have to struggle for anything. I made one bogey because I hit a little bit of a bad drive, and the wind got it and put it in a bad spot. Other than that I played great."
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