The ACU Wildcats turned in one of their best rounds of the spring season Monday afternoon, leaving themselves tied for fourth after the first round of the Southland Conference championship tournament at the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club.
The Wildcats shot an 11-over-par 299 in the first round at the par-72, 7,346-yard Dye Signature Course and are just nine shots off the lead, which is held by Sam Houston State after the first round. The Bearkats fired a 2-over-par 290 Monday and will carry a six-stroke lead over second-place Central Arkansas (296) into Tuesday's second round.
Defending conference champion Southeastern Louisiana is in third at 9-over-par 297, followed by Stephen F. Austin and ACU at 11-over-par 299. Lamar is one stroke behind the Wildcats and Lumberjacks at 12-over-par 300.
Monday's round of 299 is only the fifth sub-300 round of the spring posted by the Wildcats, whose best round this spring is a 294 shot back on Feb. 24 at the Moe O'Brien Intercollegiate in Lake Charles, La.
The Wildcats were led Monday by junior Corbin Renner, who is tied for third in the individual standings after carding a 1-under-par 71. Renner had three birdies and one bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 1-under-par, and then had two birdies and one double-bogey on the back nine to finish at 71.
Kaden Walters is tied for 10th place going into the second round after posting a first-round 74. Senior Trey Sullivan is tied for 18th after shooting a 76 on Monday, and Kyle Karnei is tied for 34th after posting a 78 on Monday.
Central Arkansas' Pep Angles -- one of the pre-tournament favorites to win conference individual medalists honors -- leads the tournament going into Tuesday's second round after posting a first-round 4-under-par 68. Zach Cabra of Sam Houston State is in second place, one shot off the lead.
ACU and Incarnate Word, which are not eligible to earn the Southland's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament during their transition period from Division II to Division I, will be participating in this year's tournament unattached. If the Wildcats or Cardinals were to win the event, the next-highest finishing team will move on to represent the Southland in an NCAA regional. Likewise, the Southland's top individual, excluding ACU and UIW, automatically qualifies for the NCAA tournament.
Information for this story provided by Abilene Christian Athletics.