Gabriela Coello

Georgia's Gabriela Coello during the first round of the 46th annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic on the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga., on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Georgia women’s golf carded a 5-over 293 in the opening round of the SEC championships on Wednesday at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham. The Bulldogs sit in fifth on the team leaderboard, nine strokes behind No. 12 Florida and No. 14 Auburn.

Georgia was led by junior Gabriela Coello who finished with a 1-under 71, her fifth par-or-better round of the season. Coello’s experience at Greystone proved to be helpful after last year’s SEC championships and Tuesday’s practice round.

“I know the greens better and I feel like I know the course way better this year,” Coello said. “I had good speed yesterday and some really big putts happened to drop today.”

Coello made the turn at even par after one birdie and one bogey on the front nine. She then made three birdies on the back side before a double bogey on the par-5 18th hole moved her back to her 1-under finish.

SEC freshman of the week Jo-Hua Hung finished behind Coello with a 73, and freshman Harmie Constantino added a 74. Senior Rinko Mitsunaga finished out Georgia’s team score with a 75. Hung, Constantino, and Mitsunaga each birdied their final hole.

“It was a good day and honestly very close to being a great day,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We played the first 13-14 holes about as well as we’ve played all year. Which we’ve been waiting on.”

Leaders Florida and Auburn shot 4-under 284 which gives them a three-stroke lead over No. 11 South Carolina, which carded a 1-under 287 as a team. The Bulldogs sit two shots behind No. 6 Arkansas going into round two.

“To start getting hot in the postseason is what you want as a team,” Coello said. “The next couple of weeks are going to be really exciting if this is the type of round we put up in the first round on a golf course like this.”

The SEC championships will have two more rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday before seeding the top-8 teams in a match play bracket to determine the SEC champion. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Saturday with Sunday’s championship match starting at 8:30 am ET.

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