Wildcats Tied for First on Opening Day of SEC Championship

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Now, that’s one way to begin the postseason.

The Kentucky men’s golf team fired an opening-round score of 3-under par and is tied with Georgia for the lead following Friday’s 18 holes of play at the Southeastern Conference Championship. The Wildcats and Bulldogs were the only teams that came in under par amid windy conditions that impeded play for much of the day.  

Four players finished in the top 10 on the individual leaderboard with even par or better scores and all five are among the top 25. Sophomore Tyler ‘Chip’ McDaniel carded a team-low round of 2-under par to lead the way. 

With a combined round of 277, the Wildcats secured the fourth-best round at the SEC Championship under head coach Brian Craig and easily the best opening round during his tenure. UK’s previous best opening 18 holes was a 284, set most recently in 2015. 

What Head Coach Brian Craig is Saying:

"The wind was super challenging today and I could not be more proud of the guys for the way they handled it. Today was a good start, but only a start. We have a long way to go. I am also really proud of Stephen Stallings for bouncing back and playing an exceptional back nine to post a 1-under par, 69. That was huge for the team.” 

About the Lineup:

McDaniel paced the Wildcats on the individual leaderboard but the results were a total team effort.

UK’s sophomore sensation from Manchester, Ky., notched three birdies over his final 12 holes for the 2-under 68. He is currently in a tie for second place overall and sits two shots off of the individual pace. After beginning his round on No. 10, McDaniel closed out the front nine with birdies on a pair of par fours at No. 16 and No. 18 before turning the corner. He birdied the par-three third and closed out the round by scoring even par the rest of the way. 

Junior Stephen Stallings fought off a 1-over par, 36, to begin the opening nine holes with a 2-under back nine. After beginning his round on No. 10, he began his run on his version of the back nine by birdying the par-3 No. 3. He then charted birdies on back-to-back holes at No. 5 and No. 6 to come in with a 1-under par score for the round and a tie for eighth overall. 

Sophomore Cooper Musselman and senior David Snyder each turned in an even-par 70 in their opening rounds. Musselman posted three birdies on the afternoon, including one on the par-four 18th. Snyder was sensational to open his round with four birdies on the front nine. He held off a couple of bogeys on the back nine for a solid round. The duo is tied for 10th overall heading into Saturday’s round.

Freshman Jalen Ledger, appearing in his first SEC Championship, carded a 2-over par 72 to begin his tournament. Ledger shot 2-over on the front nine before bouncing back for an even-par round over the final nine holes. He birdied the par-five No. 7 and then finished with consecutive pars to close out his round.  Ledger is tied for 22nd among all players. 

The Tournament Field:

Arguably one of the most talented fields of contenders in the country took the course at Sea Island on Friday in a quest for the league’s crown. Kentucky and Georgia were the only teams to fire rounds under par among the field of 14 teams. The Wildcats and Bulldogs conclude day one in a tie for first at 3-under par. 

No. 18 Florida currently sits in third at 5-over par. Seventh-ranked Vanderbilt and Tennessee round out the top five as the teams are tied for fourth with a 6-over-par opening day score. 

Nine strokes separate third place through 11th place after a challenging opening day. 

About the Course:

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." 

Players will resume action with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. Teams will be paired based on the results from the first round and will play 18 holes every day, concluding on Sunday.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, -3)
T2 – Chip McDaniel (68, -2)
T8 – Stephen Stallings (69, -1)
T10 – Cooper Musselman (70, E)
T10 – David Snyder (70, E)
T22 – Jalen Ledger (72, +2)

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