The University of Alabama’s top-ranked men’s golf team turned in an 8-under-par 272 to take the opening-round lead at the 2014 SEC Championship Friday at the par-70, 7,005-yard Seaside Course at the Sea Island Golf Club.

Auburn is second, two shots back of the Crimson Tide, after turning in a 6-under-par 274 that featured the Tigers playing the final four holes at 7-under par. Georgia and South Carolina are tied for third at 3-under 277 while Arkansas rounds out the top five at even-par 280.

“It was a nice start to the SEC Championship,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “Bobby (Wyatt) led us today, and he just played fantastic. He got under par early and the rest of the team seemed to calm down and follow suit. But this is a 54-hole tournament and all we have done is put ourselves in a good position. There are really good teams within just a few shots, so all we can focus on is playing really good golf tomorrow. We have to be at our best for three rounds.”

Senior Bobby Wyatt paced the potent Alabama attack with a 5-under-par 65 that was matched by South Carolina’s Matthew NeSmith. Wyatt, a native of Mobile, Ala., carded a bogey-free round that included birdies on the second, fifth, eight, 14th and 15th holes en route to the overnight lead.

“It is always good to get off to a solid start,” Bobby Wyatt said. “The first day of SEC is always little intense, everyone wants to win a ring, and a good start just kind of helps everyone settle down and play. Everything just kind of worked for me today. On this golf course you have to be in good position off the tee to attack pins, and sometimes even then all you can do is try to hit it in the middle of the green. I was able to stay away from mistakes today, and take advantage of my good shots.”

Freshman Robby Shelton matched Wyatt’s bogey-free round with a 3-under 68 that included birdies on the seventh, 10th and 15th holes. Shelton is tied for fifth place, one shot in front of senior Cory Whitsett who carded a 2-under 68 and is tied for eighth. Whitsett, from Houston, Texas, shot 3-under 32 on the back nine to close well for the Tide.

Senior Trey Mullinax is tied for 31st after a 2-over-par 72 that counted as Alabama’s final score in Friday’s first round. Sophomore Tom Lovelady shot 73 and was dropped from the team total. He is tied for 41st headed into Saturday’s second round.

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