UA golf in 8th after opening round

Julian Perico of Arkansas during an NCAA golf tournament on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Julian Perico was back to his old postseason ways Wednesday, firing a 2-under 68 to lead Arkansas to a first-round score of 2 under at the SEC men’s golf championships at Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga.

Fellow Arkansas senior Wil Gibson matched Perico with four birdies and two bogeys to post a 68.

The Razorbacks are tied for eighth with No. 13 Tennessee at 2-under 278 with two rounds of stroke play remaining before the field is cut to the final eight for match play.

No. 15 Texas A&M shot an 11 under to take a one-stroke lead over No. 17 Alabama and a two-stroke advantage over No. 8 Auburn after one round on the 7,005-yard Seaside Course, which is hosting its 13th consecutive SEC championships.

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No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 21 Ole Miss are tied in fourth place at 5 under, followed by No. 1 Vanderbilt (4 under) and No. 9 Florida (3 under).

The Razorbacks, who started on No. 10, were in fifth place midway through their back nine but dropped three strokes on the final five holes.

Perico, who is tied for 11th place, carded consecutive birdies on Nos. 13-15 to push into contention. Another birdie on the par-4 fifth hole got him back to 3 under, but he bogeyed his final hole. Gibson notched his birdies on Nos. 13, 18, 1 and 3.

Senior Segundo Oliva Pinto made the turn at 2 under but gave back those strokes with bogeys on Nos. 5 and 8 to finish with an even par 70, good for a tie for 35th place.

Senior Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and junior Manuel Lozada both shot 2-over 72 and are tied for 50th.

Alabama’s Thomas Ponder, who scored a hole-in-one on the 192-yard 17th hole, is tied for the lead at 6-under 64 with Tennessee’s Caleb Suratt, who posted six birdies.

Texas A&M’s Sam Bennett, coming off a Silver Cup win as the low amateur at the Masters with a 16th-place finish at 2 under two weeks ago, is alone in third place at 5 under.

Mississippi State’s Austin Vukovits had seven birdies, but he countered that with five bogeys and a triple to wind up at 71.

The Razorbacks will tee off round two on No. 1 today at 8 a.m. with Florida and Tennessee.