ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s youthful squad showed some first-time jitters in the middle of its initial round at the NCAA Athens Regional on Thursday.
But those nerves cleared out in time for the Bulldogs to finish with a flourish and position themselves solidly in the top five after one day at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
The top five in the three-round regional advance to the NCAA National Championships.
The Bulldogs picked up two birdies on their final hole to finish the first round at 4-under-par 280, which was good for fourth place going into today’s second round.
“That definitely gives us a lot of confidence going into tomorrow,” Georgia sophomore Keith Mitchell said. “Finishing on a high not, regardless of your score, is definitely going to give you confidence the next day. So if we can just use that high note coming in and go out firing tomorrow we’ll be just fine.”
The second round of the Athens Regional starts at 8 a.m. today with the final round on Saturday.
T.J. Mitchell led Georgia with 3-under-par 68 while former Lakeside golfer Brian Carter shot 69. Keith Mitchell shot 71 while Joey Garber had 72. Georgia’s non-counting score was 74 by freshman Nicholas Reach.
“It’s always nice to finish up strong because you don’t want to go into the evening with a sour taste in your mouth,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said.
“You like to feel like you finished strong and you’ve got some momentum and confidence going into the next day. The more momentum and confidence you have the better.”
Alabama and North Florida were the runaway leaders on the first day. The Crimson Tide shot 15-under 269 and the Ospreys shot 13-under 271 to finish first and second after one round.
East Carolina was third at 276. Defending national champion Augusta State is in seventh place at 283.
“I think the faster the start you have, the more relaxed you become,” said Alabama coach Jay Seawell, a former Augusta State coach. “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. All five guys got off to a good start and I’m really proud of them.”