What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State opened defense of its Sun Belt Conference title on Sunday with a 21-over 305 in windy and rainy conditions to stand in ninth place following the opening day.
* Junior Severin Soller shot a first round even par 71 and is tied for fourth just one stroke off the lead.
* The Panthers have won eight conference tournaments and finished as a runner-up eight times in the last 19 years.

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. – Led by an opening round 71 from Severin Soller, the Georgia State men’s golf team stands ninth following the first round of the Sun Belt Championship at The Raven Golf Club.

Soller’s even-par round was good enough for a tie for fourth as teams battled windy and rainy conditions all day. He is just one-stroke off the lead as only three golfers broke par on the opening day.

Georgia State struggled to shoot a 21-over 305, but stand just 11 strokes out of the lead with 36 holes to play. The Panthers are also just nine strokes out of the top four which would qualify them for the Match Play portion of the championship.

“We had two guys play pretty well today and three others who struggled,” head coach Chad Wilson said. “It is pretty much as simple as that. Given the conditions, Severin and Nick stepped up and played really good golf. The good thing is that there is a lot of time left and I know this team has a great round in them tomorrow.”

Junior Nick Budd is tied for 13th at 2-over par following a 73 on Sunday. Junior Nathan Williams is tied for 42nd at 8-over par after shooting a 79 in the first round.

Senior Max Herrmann, who earned low medalist honors in the event two years ago, struggled to an opening round 82 and is tied for 55th. Sophomore Josh Edgar rounded out the line-up with an 83 and is in 58th-place.

Coastal Carolina leads the 12-team field at 10-over par following the first day of play. South Alabama and UT Arlington are tied for second-place at 11-over par with Texas State in fourth place at 12-over par. Troy and in-state rival Georgia Southern are tied for fifth at 14-over par.

UL Monroe’s Joao Girao, Appalachian State’s Tripp Summerlin, and Texas State’s Alvaro Carol Estrems are tied for first place at 1-under par. Soller is tied with Arkansas State’s Tanner Napier and Georgia Southern’s Jake Storey for fourth at even par.

The 12-team field will continue stroke play on Monday and Tuesday. The top four teams will then qualify for match play with No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 scheduled for Wednesday morning. The winners will advance to the championship match on Wednesday afternoon.

Since 1998, Georgia State has finished in the top three in the conference tournament all but three times with eight titles and eight second-place finishes.

In the two years with a match play format, the Panthers have compiled a 3-1 record and a 13.5-6.5 individual match record during that stretch.

Georgia State will be paired with UL Monroe and Appalachian State, teeing off a 9:15 a.m. ET on Hole No. 10 on Monday. Live scoring of the event will be available at GolfStat.com while live video can be found on the Sun Belt Conference’s YouTube page.

With a conference championship win, Georgia State will automatically earn a spot in NCAA Regional play which will be played May 14-16 at six national sites. The NCAA championship is scheduled for May 25-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.