Claxton is one shot off the pace set by Georgia freshman Kevin Kisner and Florida's Brett Stegmaier. Auburn junior Lee Williams is tied for fifth place after shooting a 70.
The 12th Tigers, who are the defending SEC champion, are shooting for their fourth tournament title of the spring. "Overall I was happy with the first round," said Auburn Coach Mike Griffin. "It is unfortunate that we didn't finish strong. In the first round of a tournament, you want to make sure you are in contention, and we have put ourselves in that position." The Tigers struggled with the 18th hole, going five-over-par on the 470-yard par four.
"I am very proud of Will Claxton and Lee Williams," Griffin adds. "They had great rounds for us today."
Auburn sat through a 2 1/2-hour rain delay that kept teams on the course until the 8 p.m. local time sundown on the Atlantic Coast. The teams will return to action for 18 holes on Saturday and Sunday.
Florida is one shot behind Auburn at 292 and is followed by Alabama (293), South Carolina (298), Vanderbilt (302), Kentucky (303), Ole Miss (304), Mississippi State (313) and LSU is last at 315, which is 35 shots over par.
Senior Jay Mundy is in a tie for 22nd place with a 75. Auburn had to count a 78 from junior Tyler McKeever and did not count the 79 from freshman Stuart Moore.