The Dalton State College men's golf team ended play Monday in first place by 15 strokes at the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship being played at Robert Trent Jones at Cambrian Ridge in Greenville, Alabama. The second of three tournament rounds resumes today.

The No. 4-ranked Roadrunners posted a combined score of 287, putting them at 1-under-par, 15 shots ahead of second-place William Carey University. Ben Rebne set the pace for Dalton State and the rest of the field, posting a career-best 6-under-par 66, five shots ahead of the second place golfer Andrew McDonald from Blue Mountain College. Dalton State’s Sport Almond also finished his round under par, finishing Monday with a 1-under-par 71. Almond and Rebne, along with McDonald, were the only golfers under par after one round.

“We’ve done what we needed to do to start tournament,” Dalton State coach Ben Rickett said. “We’ve made it difficult on the other teams, but we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas pedal.”

In a field of 50 golfers, all five of the Roadrunner golfers finished the first round in the top 17 on the individual leaderboard. Zach Womack finished with a 2-over-par 74, Eli Hendricks posted a 4-over-par 76, and Matthew Cleary ended his first round with a 5-over-par 77.

Dalton State finished the first round with the best scoring average on par 3s (2.9) and par 4s (3.96), and the Roadrunners lead the tournament in total number of birdies (20). The Roadrunners built their first-round lead despite shooting 8-over-par on the par 5s, with a scoring average of 5.4.

“Typically we play better on more difficult golf courses, I think that kind of showed today. This team has never struggled to make birdies, they’re an aggressive group of players,” Rickett said. “I don’t want to be the picky coach, but we’ll make some adjustments tomorrow and see if we can’t avoid those big numbers.”

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