Western Kentucky senior Tom Bevington is near the top of the pack, leading the Hilltoppers on the first day of the Tiger Invitational presented by Jason Dufner in Opelika, Ala. The squad sits tied for fifth, shooting 3-over 291 for the first 18 of the 54-hole event.

The St. Albans, England native and team captain Bevington fired a 3-under 69 in the first round at the par-72, 7,289-yard Lake Course at Grand National. It is his best 18 holes since the final round of the year-opening Graeme McDowell Invitational. He recorded seven birdies on the day, including two in his final three holes.

The top of the leaderboard is crowded as the top 11 competitors are within one stroke of each other. Bevington is tied for third with eight other golfers, including three Golfstat Top-100 contenders, and is only one shot out of first.

Two Hilltoppers carded a 1-over 73 in the opening round: senior Linus Lo and junior Caleb O’Toole. The pair are only two shots from being in the top-20 on the individual leaderboard.

Lo closed out his final hole with a birdie to finish at 1-over while O’Toole notched his fifth birdie of the day on his third to last hole to do the same.

WKU’s Chase Landrum and Dawson McDaniel both shot 4-over 76 to round out the Hilltopper lineup. Landrum finished his final eight holes in even-par fashion while McDaniel played his back nine at 1-over.

No. 15 Auburn leads the 20-team field at 9-under 279. WKU is four shots back from Louisiana Tech, the only Conference USA school out of four that is ahead of the Hilltoppers after the first day. North Alabama’s Jackson Wedgeworth and Auburn’s C.J. Easley are tied for first out of all 102 individuals after shooting 4-under 68.

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