East: Liberty takes first-round lead
Top team: Liberty, 5-under 283
Top individual: Matt Schovee (SMU), 5-under 67
In position: 2. SMU (288), 3. Tulsa (293), 3. UNLV (293), 5. Texas Tech (294)
Chasing: 6. Louisiana-Lafayette (295), 6. Lamar (295), 8. Auburn (296)
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MAGIC MAN: Josh Gregory is working some postseason magic once again. Gregory, who guided Augusta State to the past two NCAA titles, has SMU in position to advance to the NCAA Championship. The Mustangs shot even-par 288 Thursday, five shots behind leader Liberty. Gregory is in his first year as coach at SMU, his alma mater. The Mustangs entered the regional ranked No. 42 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking and are the field’s seventh seed. They’re in second place after Day 1, though.
The Mustangs received a 67 from Matt Schovee and 69 from Harry Higgs. Schovee holds the individual lead, while Higgs is tied for second. They were the only two Mustangs to shoot lower than 76 Thursday. Both players are ranked outside the top 200 and are the team’s Nos. 4 and 3 players.
Three players broke par for Liberty. The team’s top two players, Robert Karlsson and Chase Marinell, both shot 70. The Flames’ fifth player, Mathieu Fenasse, fired 71.
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TOUGH DAY FOR TOP SEEDS: Four of the field’s top-five seeds are outside the top five after Day 1, including top-seeded Auburn. The Tigers, ranked No. 3, are in eighth place, but just two shots outside the cut line. None of the Tigers broke par Thursday. Blayne Barber, a member of last year’s Walker Cup team, and Michael Johnson both shot 73.
Third-seeded Florida, ranked No. 18, is in 10th after an 11-over 299. Duke, the No. 4 seed, is two shots behind the Gators. Fifth-seeded Indiana shot 298 and is in ninth place, four shots off the cut line.
Second-seeded UNLV, ranked No. 15, is the only top-five team actually in the top five after Day 1. The Rebels are T-3 with Tulsa after shooting 293.
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SHORT SHOTS: Florida’s T.J. Vogel, ranked No. 6, shot 6-over 78. He bogeyed four of his final six holes. He is the highest-ranked individual in the field. ... Twelve players broke par in the first round. Two of them are competing as individuals. Campbell’s Vaita Guillaume made five birdies in his first-round 70, while Steson’s Sam Ryder shot 71.