May 17, 2012
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 37th and Reach is 51st.
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."
Live results and tee times for the Athens Regional can be found at golfstat.com. There is no charge for admission or parking for the event.