PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. (AP) – Freshman Justin Thomas shot a 70 to help Alabama take a three-shot lead over SEC rivals Florida and Auburn after the first round Tuesday at the NCAA Division I men's championships.
The Crimson Tide shot a 1-over 285.
UCLA's Anton Arboleda had the best score of the day, a 4-under 67 and leads by a shot over Corey Conners of Kent State and Tyler McCumber of Florida.
The NCAA individual champion will be crowned after 54 holes, while the top eight teams advance to match play.
Arboleda helped the Bruins finish in a tie for fourth.
The sophomore eagled the par 5, first hole and added six more birdies, including five on the back nine for a 31. His round was blemished with four bogeys, but he made a 6-foot par saving putt on the final hole.
“I knew my game was solid, even when I made bogeys,'' Arboleda said. “I just kept hitting good shots and made some putts on the back nine.''
Thomas was 1 under and teammates Bobby Wyatt and Scott Strohmeyer each shot even par and Cory Whitsett and Hunter Hamrick each shot 2-over 73.
“They played well all round,'' Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. “It feels like every hole here is into the wind. You have to stay patient and take advantage of the easier holes.''
USC, which is hosting the tournament, finished tied for 23rd.