It's always been difficult for active college players to compete in the Gate Petroleum PGA Invitational, the First Coast's premier golf event that brings amateurs and professionals together in the same field.

But two who managed to juggle their schedules are at the top of the leaderboard after Sunday's opening round.

Florida State senior Corey Carlson of Green Cove Springs and Dartmouth freshman Sam Ohno of Ponte Vedra Beach both shot 3-under-par 67 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club Lagoon Course and share the first-round lead.

The field moves to the par-72 Ocean Course for the the final two rounds on Monday and Tuesday.

Jacksonville Amateur champion Davis Roche of Jacksonville and Kevin Slayden of Ponte Vedra are tied at 1-under 69. Three of the four players tied at even-par 70 are also tied for low professional, Timuquana director of golf Clint Avret, Sawgrass Country Club director of golf Ron Philo Jr., and former University of North Florida player and Orlando resident Garrett Morrison.

Also checking in an even-par was former University of Florida player Zach Lee of Ponte Vedra.

Veteran area amateur and former FSU player Andy Purnell and Pablo Creek director of golf Richie Bryant are tied at 1-over.

Ohno, who played high school golf at Episcopal, and Carlson, who played at Clay, both made their birdies in bunches. Ohno birdied three of four between Nos. 9 and 12 and Carlson rattled off three in a row, at Nos. 13, 14 and 15.

Roche, who played four years at Valdosta State, is in his first Gate Invitational. He said the mid-August date usually coincides with the start of classes, or at least when college coaches required their players to report for preseason practice sessions.

"I've always wanted to play this tournament but our coach wanted us back at school before classes started," he said. "I love the course and the tournament is run first-class."

Roche loves the Lagoon Course for a good reason: he shot 58 there in November of 2016 during a recreational round with his father. His first round on the Lagoon was for practice last week.

"I didn't keep score but I wasn't anywhere near a 58," he said. "They set it up a lot tougher for this tournament."

Roche might well have made it a three-way tie for first had it not been for a wayward second shot at the par-5 14th hole. He had a 5-iron from the fairway but hooked into a patch of trees separating the course from A1A.

"It might have actually gone on the road," he joked.


Gate Petroleum PGA Invitational

At Ponte Vedra Inn and Club Lagoon Course (6,022 yards, par-70)

Sam Ohno;34-33--67

Cody Carlson;34-33--67

Davis Roche;33-36--69

Kevin Slayden;34-35--69

Garrett Morrison;35-35--70

Ron Philo Jr.;36-34--70

Clint Avret;36-34--70

Zach Lee;39-31--70

Andy Purnell;37-34--71

Richie Bryant;37-34--71

Jeff Sargeant;34-38--72

Adam Krestalude;37-35--72

Will Levinson;38-34--72

Bob Wallace;35-37--72

Lenny Schonfeld II;34-39--73

Khris McClosekey;35-38--73

Brad Rollinson;35-38--73

John Milton;37-37--74

Louis Ballantyne;39-36--75

Mike Bodney;36-39--75

Broc Nell;36-40--76

Phillip Cook;40-36--76

Steve Farmand;39-37--76

Jamie Montgomery;39-38--77

Howard Sheffield;40-37--77

Aaron Coords;41-37--78

Dave Gilberto;41-38--79

Danny Eckles;38-41--79

Matt Kleinrock;36-43--79

Zach Rogers;40-39--79

Dustin Altman;44-36--80

Dan Kellermann;37-43--80

Zach Alligood;40-40--80

Clayton Kirkmeyer;39-42--81

Scott Nicholson;39-42--81

Kyle Whittaker;40-42--82

Jason Shesterenko;42-41--83

Luke McCann;44-40--84

Luis Pantoja;43-41--84

Ken McLaughlin;42-43--85

Ken McLaughlin;42-43--85

Erick Holt;39-46--85

David Vormack;43-44--87

Craig Ross;45-42--87