Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Pinto leads, Hogs in 3rd at SEC golf championship
A Razorback head cover sits in a golf bag at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers during practice rounds for the Walmart NWA Arkansas Championship.
University of Arkansas junior Segundo Oliva Pinto fired a bogey-free round of 6-under 64 on Wednesday to lead the field after the opening day at the SEC Men’s Golf Championships at St. Simons Island, Ga.
Golfing in the leadoff spot for the No. 22 Razorbacks, Pinto notched six birdies on the par-70 Seaside Course to tie the best first-round SEC championship mark set by Florida’s Alejandro Tosti in 2017.
Oliva Pinto tied the Arkansas record at the SEC Championships, held by Bud Still (1995 on a par-72 course) and Sebastian Cappelen (2014). He was the only golfer to play a bogey-free opening round.
“I played simple golf today,” Oliva Pinto said. “I picked up good targets and executed properly.”
Oliva Pinto also credited associate head coach Barrett Lais with helping him “stay in the right mindset” in the opening round.
Arkansas shot 2-under par to stand in third place behind No. 10 Georgia (5 under) and No. 19 Tennessee (3 under) with two rounds of stroke play remaining before the final eight teams compete in match play.
Oliva Pinto was hot early, with birdies on Nos. 2, 5, 6 and 7 to surge into an early lead. He and Arkansas senior William Buhl both played the back nine in 2 under with birdies on 15 and 16.
Oliva Pinto’s 64 was the second-lowest round of his career and the third 64 by a Razorback this season, following two such rounds by junior Julian Perico.
Buhl shot a 69 to tie for 10th place. Fellow senior Tyson Reeder had a very eventful round with four birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey to shoot 72 and tie for 33rd. The Razorbacks’ final counting score came from freshman Manuel Lozada, who is tied for 41st after carding a 73. Perico, playing in the anchor spot, bogeyed 17 and 18 to finish at 74 and in a tie for 48th.
Oliva Pinto leads Tennessee’s Spencer Cross and LSU’s Connor Gaunt by one shot and Mississippi State’s Austin Fulton by two. Medalist honors will be determined after three rounds of stroke play.
Georgia surged into the lead with a team score of 5 under on the back nine, sparked by eagles on No. 15 by Davis Thompson (68) and Connor Creasy (69), who are both under par and in the top 10, along with teammate Spencer Ralston (68).
The Razorbacks finished the first day seven shots clear of the cut line. They are three shots ahead of No. 15 Vanderbilt and No. 23 LSU, who both shot 1-over par. No. 14 Auburn is in sixth at 2 over, followed by Alabama (4 over) and South Carolina (5 over).
Perhaps the day’s biggest surprise was No. 11 Texas A&M firing a 6-over par to tie with No. 17 Florida and Missouri for ninth.
Other teams outside of the cut are Kentucky (7 over), Mississippi State (11 over) and Ole Miss (19 over). Mississippi State, which teed off on No. 10, was in contention most of the day until its five golfers finished up with an aggregate 18 over on the front nine.
The Razorbacks will tee off on No. 1 at 8:10 a.m. today, paired with Georgia and Tennessee.
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