Georgia fifth-year student Spencer Ralston posted the low score of the day to move to the top of the individual leaderboard on Thursday in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Men’s Golf Championship.
Playing Sea Island Golf Club’s par-70, 7,005-yard layout on the Seaside Course, Ralston navigated the blustery and windy conditions for a 3-under 67. The Gainesville, Ga., native improved to 5-under 135 for the tournament, one clear of Arkansas’ Segundo Pinto and two better than LSU’s Connor Gaunt. Ralston posted four birdies in the second round, converting on the par-4 first, the par-4 fifth, the par-3 12th, and the par-5 15th.
“Today was a bit of a challenge,” Ralston said. “The wind blew all day and it took a lot of patience with the way the course was set up and the conditions. My game has been trending in the right direction the last few weeks. Having control of your ball and having some confidence are key out here, and I feel like both of those things are helping me out this week so far.”
“Spencer has had his ups and downs this year, but we saw the old Spencer at Old Waverly (where he finished sixth last month) and in the days leading up to the SECs,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said. “This is the fourth time he’s played this tournament, so nothing really surprises him down here. He’s a veteran with a good head on his shoulders, and he knows what it takes. I am proud of the way he is playing and leading our team.”
Following the third round on Friday, the individual medalist will be crowned and the runner-up will be recognized. The SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year additionally will be announced.
Also Friday, the top eight teams after the 54 holes of stroke play will advance to the match play portion of the tournament. First-round leader Georgia slipped into a tie for third with LSU on Thursday with a 10-over 290. At 5-over 565, the Bulldogs are three behind Alabama and one shy of Arkansas, but they are six clear of eighth-place Kentucky.
After Ralston, the Bulldogs got a 1-over 71 from senior Davis Thompson, a 5-over 75 from sophomore Connor Creasy, and a 7-over 77 from junior Eli Scott. Junior Trent Phillips had the Bulldogs’ non-counting score of 8-over 78.
Thompson is seventh individually at 1-under 139, four behind Ralston. On Thursday, Thompson was named one of the 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award, which is presented annually to the country’s top collegian. The three finalists will be announced on May 13 and the winner’s name will be called June 4.
Creasy landed at 4-over 144, followed by Phillips and Scott both at 8-over 148.
Georgia will tee off on Friday between 9:10 and 9:50 a.m. and will be paired with Alabama and Arkansas.
The match play quarterfinals and the semifinals are slated for Saturday, followed by the finals on Sunday. SEC Network + will have digital coverage of the semifinals, while the championship match will air on the SEC Network.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, April 23
7:30-9:50 a.m. TEE TIMES FOR THIRD ROUND OF COMPETITION
Following Competition PRESENTATION OF INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST, RUNNER-UP, AND SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Saturday, April 24
7:30-9:00 a.m. TEE TIMES FOR MATCH PLAY QUARTERFINALS
1:00-2:40 p.m. (approximate) TEE TIMES FOR MATCH PLAY SEMIFINALS
Sunday, April 25
7:30-8:10 a.m. MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP