Sophomore Phillip Choi (Orlando, Fla.) and senior Andres Echavarria (Medellin, Colombia) led the Florida men’s golf team to a first place finish after round one of the SEC Championships on Friday at the Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.
This marks the fifth time this season the Gators have led after the first round. They won all the tournaments but one, where they finished in second.
Conditions on the course were not ideal, as the wind gusted up to 25 mph, leading to lower scores by all participants.
“We talked about it a little bit (about the windy conditions) before we played,” said head coach Buddy Alexander. “We knew that scoring wasn’t going to be great, so when the conditions are tough, you have to remind yourself that you might not be as bad as you think you are out there. We had four guys hanging in pretty well all day, but we had a good, solid day of golf and that’s what it’s going to take for two more days.”
Choi made five birdies and four bogeys to finish one under par and tie for second place. He finished the day one stroke behind LSU’s John Peterson at the top of the leaderboard.
Echavarria made even par with three birdies and three bogeys to finish the day in a tie for fifth place.
Senior Bank Vongvanij (Bradenton, Fla.) made one birdie and three bogeys to finish with a score of 72, only four strokes behind Peterson.
Sophomores Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) and Tommy Mou (Bradenton, Fla.) both shot a 74 to tie for 27th place.
“We had a great start, but there is an old saying that you can’t win the tournament the first day, but you can certainly lose it and we are in a good spot,” said Alexander. “We had four guys hanging in pretty well all day, but we had a good, solid day of golf and that’s what it’s going to take for two more days.”
The Gators will look to secure their lead on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.