Alabama Golf Leads TourneyAt Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. – Defending its 2007 championship, the highly-ranked University of Alabama golf team got off to a positive start Sunday as it leads a prestigious field of 15 teams after one round of play at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational.

The three-day tournament is being held at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Alabama, ranked No. 2 by Golf Week and No. 3 by Golf World, shot 2-over par, 290 in Sunday's opening round to take a one stroke lead over Tennessee (291) which is coached by former Tide golfer Jim Kelson.

"This was a nice start for us," said Alabama coach Jay Seawell whose team is opening the spring season with this event after winning two tournament titles (out of four played) in the fall. "Sawgrass Country Club is always tough when the wind blows, I don't care what the temperature is like. This course has been good to us over the years but that's a credit to our guys. It sets up well for us, but you have to come here with a good attitude as well."

The winds were blowing out of the south at about 10 miles per hour, with temperatures into the 70's by the end of the day. Among the gallery following play at the tournament was former NFL quarterback Dan Marino who played in the tournament's college-am on Saturday.

The team standings after one round find Alabama leading at 290, followed by Tennessee, 291, Pepperdine, 294, tied at fourth UCLA and Charlotte, 295, tied at sixth host North Florida, Georgia State and Florida, 296, at ninth South Carolina, 300, at 10th UAB, 301, tied at 11th Indiana and Vanderbilt, 302, and tied at 13th Central Florida, Notre Dame and Coastal Carolina, 306.

Georgia State's Joel Sjoholm has a one-shot lead against two players, UCLA's Jason Kang and North Florida's Michael O'Neal, in the individual standings. He shot 69 which is 3-under par.

Alabama was led on the first day by Joseph Sykora. He shot a one-under-par 71 and is two shots out of the individual lead, tied for fourth. Two of his Tide teammates and fellow seniors, Mark Harrell and Michael Thompson, are among those tied for eighth at even par, 72. Matt Hughes is tied at 32nd at 3-over par, 75, and Matthew Swan is tied at 43rd at 4-over, 76, to round out Alabama's scoring.

Eight out of the 15 teams in the tournament's field are ranked among the Top 25.

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