Kentucky Surges Ahead for the Lead at SEC Championship


ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – After putting together its most impressive start to the Southeastern Conference Championship in the Brian Craig era on Friday, the Kentucky men’s golf team fended off a tough back nine in blustery conditions to claim a two-stroke lead for the league crown heading into the final day of play on Sunday. The Wildcats put together a combined round of 9-over par on day two and own a 6-over par score through two rounds. 

UK is two shots ahead of second-place Georgia and four-strokes in front of third-place Texas A&M with 18 holes to go. 

Sophomore Cooper Musselman paced the Wildcats on Saturday with a 1-over 71. He is 1-over for the tournament and shares ninth place with teammate Stephen Stallings. Stallings fired a 2-over 72 during the second round. Sophomore Tyler ‘Chip’ McDaniel continues to lead the Wildcats on the individual leaderboard and is even par for the tournament after a 2-over, 72, on Saturday. He is tied for third overall.

Kentucky will begin the final round of play in position to capture its second league championship under Craig. UK’s only title came in 2005 with future PGA Tour winner J.B. Holmes headlining the roster. 

What Head Coach Brian Craig is Saying:

"We played our hearts out today. Seaside is playing super difficult with the high winds, but we hung in there. There is a ton of golf left. We need to keep making aggressive swings at conservative targets. The bottom line is, this team loves to compete and this great competition. You have to love it.

We’ve played well the first two days. The golf course has played really hard, but we’ve executed well and we’ve done a good job of staying patient. I still think it’s a wide-open tournament. We know we’ll have to go out and play great because there are so many good teams in the hunt. We’re going to play Sunday like we’re 10 behind, because as soon as you lay off, somebody will catch you.”

About the Lineup:

Kentucky is the only team in the field with three players among the top 10 on the individual leaderboard. Senior David Snyder is tied for 18th as UK’s top four golfers are all in position for top-20 finishes. 

Making a push today was Musselman with his team-best round of 71. He opened the round on the No. 1 and shot a 1-under par for the front nine. He posted consecutive birdies on No. 8 and No. 9 to turn the corner in prime position. A double-bogey on the par-four 16th was the only misstep for the Louisville, Ky., native as he closed out the round with back-to-back pars for a stellar second round. He enters the final day in a tie for ninth overall at 1-over par for the tournament. 

McDaniel is in position for his sixth top-five finish of the season following a round of 72 during Saturday’s round. He is tied through two rounds at even par. McDaniel’s round got off to a rough start with a double-bogey on the par-three third, but he rebounded quickly with birdies on each of the next two holes. He finished the front nine at one-over par. He turned the corner with a birdie on the par-four 10th to highlight the back nine. Following a bogey on the 15th he steadied his round with three-straight pars to end the round at 2-over par. 

Stallings’ exceptional spring season continued on Saturday with a 2-over round of 72. He is tied with Musselman for ninth overall at 1-over for the tournament. Stallings fended off a tough start on the opening nine holes where he carded a 2-over par score by rebounding for an even-par back nine. Birdies on No. 10 and No. 16 highlighted his round. 

Snyder jumped out of the gate with an exceptional opening nine holes. He and Musselman were the only players to score an even-par score or better through the first nine. Birdies on the fifth and seventh holes ignited his hot start. Snyder finished the round at 4-over par for the day and is currently in 18th overall on the individual leaderboard. 

Freshman Jalen Ledger posted a 10-over par score on day two and is tied for 59th overall. Making his first career appearance in the SEC Championship field, Ledger’s round featured birdies on par-three 12th and the par-five 15th. 

The Tournament Field:

The field had to contend with another day of high winds and as a result not a single team turned in an under par score. Three teams managed 3-over par scores, but it was not enough to catch the Wildcats who own the two-stroke lead over second-place Georgia entering Sunday’s final round.

Kentucky was 9-over for the day and is 6-over for the tournament. Georgia logged an 11-over par score and sits at 8-over for the combined two-day effort. Third place Texas A&M fired a 3-over par 283 to make the biggest push of the day to edge past Arkansas by one shot for the third place position. Fifth-place Auburn is eight shots off of Kentucky’s pace. 

About the Course and Tournament:

This marks the 16th year for the SEC Championship to be contested on the Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course. The SEC has conducted its annual championship on St. Simons Island since 2001 (Seaside Course 2001-07, 2010-14; Frederica Golf Club 2008-09). Since 1927, the Sea Island Golf Club has enjoyed a legacy as one of America's premier golf clubs. 

Rated No. 1 in the U.S. among the "World's 50 Best Golf Hotels" by Golf Digest Index, Sea Island Golf Club offers three exceptional 18-hole championship courses. The Seaside Course, home to the PGA TOUR's McGladrey Classic, is a links course graced by majestic ocean vistas in the tradition of St. Andrews.

Originally designed in 1929 by famed architects Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison, the Seaside Course was updated in 1999 by Tom Fazio – earning it a prominent place on Golf Digest's list of "Top 100 Courses in the United States." 

The SEC Network is on-site throughout the tournament to produce a one-hour Men’s
Golf Championship Review Show to be aired on the SEC Network Sunday, April 24, 2016,
at 1 pm ET. 

Players will resume action for the final round of action on Sunday with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. ET. Teams will be paired based on the results from the first two rounds. Fans can follow along with the action on www.golfstat.com

Sea Island Golf Club
St. Simons Island, Ga. 
April 3-5
Par: 70
Yardage: 7,005

T1 – Kentucky (277, 289 +6)
T3 – Chip McDaniel (68, 72; E)
T9 – Stephen Stallings (69, 72; +1)
T9 – Cooper Musselman (70, 71; +1)
T18 – David Snyder (70, 74; +4)
T59 – Jalen Ledger (72, 80; +12)

For the latest on the Kentucky men's golf team, follow @UKMensGolf on Twitter and on the web at UKathletics.com.