ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Sophomore Sebastian Cappelen
shot even par to lead the No. 9 University of Arkansas men’s golf team to a team score of six-over par and into seventh place after the first round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships at Seaside Golf Course on St. Simons Island, Ga.
The Razorbacks got off to a terrible start, but closed strong on Friday, playing the final nine holes at three-under par, moving up significantly in the team standings. No. 7 Alabama leads the way at eight-under par and is followed by No. 25 Georgia at seven under and No. 2 Auburn (-3). Arkansas is just three strokes out of fourth place overall as Florida (+3), Kentucky (+4) and Tennessee (+5) complete the top half of the team standings.
“We couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start,” Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin
said. “I am really proud of the way the guys hung in there and closed things out. The way that this course plays on a yearly basis, even par gives you a chance to win and to be at six-over after our start gives us a chance to get back into this over the next two days.”
This is the 10th time in the last 12 years that the Seaside Golf Course has hosted the SEC Championships and only once has a score better than par (2006) won the team championship. Last season Florida took the team title with a score of eight-over par and Georgia won in 2010 with a team score of four-over. The average three-day score to win the SEC title at Seaside course has been 12-over par.
Cappelen’s round could have been one for the record books, but a costly mistake on No. 15, his sixth hole of the day, ruined a potential round in the 60s. One-over par after a bogey on No. 14, Cappelen’s tee shot on 15 went into the hazard left of the fairway and after difficulty getting back into play, he walked away with a triple bogey on the hole. The Dane came back strong with a birdie on his next hole and played the rest of the course at three-under par to finish the round at even par. Cappelen’s score has him tied for 14th overall in the individual standings, five strokes off the pace of Bobby Wyatt of Alabama.
“Sebastian played great,” McMakin said. “You can really see how much he has matured from last year in today’s score. A year ago, his triple bogey might have led to an even bigger score, but he came right back with a birdie and managed the rest of his round.”
Sophomore Austin Cook
also played well on Friday even after a bogey on his second hole. Leaving several putts just short, Cook played his first nine holes at two-over par with a pair of bogeys and seven pars. A third bogey on his 11th hole of the day had the Jonesboro, Ark., native at three-over, but a pair of birdies to close got him back to one-over.
Freshman Thomas Sorensen finished his first SEC Championship round with a score of two-over par on Friday. A bogey on the first hole was followed by three pars, but a birdie on No. 15 was surrounded by a pair of bogeys, leaving him at two-over par. A second birdie, this on one 18, allowed Sorensen to make the turn at one-over par. The final nine holes were played at one-over par for Sorensen including an uncharacteristic bogey on the par five, seventh.
Senior Ethan Tracy
was not immune to the early bogeys as he posted three on the first five holes, but the eldest member of the Razorbacks responded with 13 straight par putts to end the round and finish the day at three-over par. Hitting nearly every green in regulation, Tracy was unable to get his approach shots close to the hole, leaving him with 30-foot-plus putts.
Arkansas’ final player, freshman Kolton Crawford
, played his best golf early, making the turn at one-over par after three bogeys and two birdies. Unfortunately, a pair of bogeys and double bogeys over the final nine holes left him at seven-over par for the day.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to begin round two of the SEC Championships at 8 a.m. on Saturday with players from Ole Miss and South Carolina.