The Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, who is currently ranked No. 50 in the nation by GolfStat, got off to a little bit of a slow start on the front nine, making bogeys on three of the first seven holes, before responding with a birdie at nine to shoot 38 going out.
On the back nine, he birdied the par 5, 11th hole before bogeying the tough par 3, 215-yard 16th hole. He closed with birdies at 17 and 18 to shoot a 2-under, 34 on the back nine.
“Jonathan played really well on a tough course today,” commented head coach Joe Inman. “He got off to a little bit of a slow start as he felt out the course, but then really got things going over the final 10 holes.
“Despite being a freshman, Jonathan has one goal this week and that is to advance to nationals. After 18 holes, he has put himself in a very nice position with 36 holes to play.”
Grey currently leads 11 players ranked in the top 100 in the country, including eight that are in the top 50. The Regional field includes 75 golfers.
Grey gave the Panthers a representative in the NCAA Regionals for the first time since Tom Sherreard made an individual appearance in 2010. As a team, Georgia State has made it in 11 of the last 15 years.
The Kent, England native earned 11 top 25 finishes in 12 events, compiling a 72.20 scoring average and a career-low 67 on three occasions. His scoring average is the sixth lowest in a single season in school history, while compiling 19 of 35 rounds at par or better this year.
No. 10 Florida was the lone team to break par on Thursday, shooting a 2-under, 286. The Gators lead No. 2 Alabama and Sun Belt foe No. 47 South Alabama by ten shots as each shot 8-over in the first round. No. 26 Houston and No. 38 Tennessee are tied for fourth at 12-over.
Alabama’s Scott Strohmeyer, ranked 68th in the country, along with Florida teammates Tyler McCumber (29th) and T.J. Vogel (65th) are tied for first at 2-under par. South Alabama’s Lane Hulse and Houston’s Curtis Reed are tied for fourth at 1-under par.
Grey will go off the tenth tee on Friday morning at 11:20 a.m. ET/10:20 a.m. CT with Houston Baptist’s Andy Ariens and College of Charleston’s Josh Lorenzetti.
The best individual finish by a Panther came in the 2008 NCAA Regional when Joel Sjoholm, a senior at the time, finished fifth. That finish was good enough to send him to the NCAA Championship that year where he finished tied for 13th and earned First Team All-America honors.
For Grey to advance out of the NCAA Regionals, he must finish at the top golfer whose team does not advance to the NCAA Championship. Five teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championship which begins May 28.