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Gamecock fans followed along this season as South Carolina alum Mark Silvers competed on The Golf Channel's "Big Break: Greenbrier" show. Silvers made it all the way through and won the competition, earning several great prizes including cash and a PGA TOUR exemption for the 2013 Greenbrier Classic. We caught up with him this week after the finale aired to talk about his experience.

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Silvers sporting his Gamecock gear during the "Big Break" filming




BL: What was the experience like being on a reality show while competing for such a big prize?
 
MS: It was nuts. Obviously I haven't been on TV much before. To play for that amount of money and perks, it was an incredible experience...It took awhile to get used to all the cameras being around and that you're always mic'd up...You had to remember that someone can always see and hear you.

The show was filmed several months before it aired. How tough was it to keep it a secret that you won the competition before it aired?

That's the toughest part. Everybody's first question is always, 'well, did you win?' Obviously not only do I not want to ruin the show but there's a hefty penalty that comes along if you ruin the show for The Golf Channel. You have to develop a good poker face. It was hard to do anything without people looking into every move that you make.
 
You wore Carolina gear often on the show, what made you want to represent your alma mater in that way? 

Well, that's where I really shaped my golf game. I owe so much of my development to the University of South Carolina and Coach [Bill] McDonald. I felt like that would be a good way to represent that.

What did it mean to you to have the support of Gamecock fans during the show?


It was great. The golf program at South Carolina has really come a long way. Anything to draw the fans together and draw the attention to the golf at South Carolina - it allowed me a great opportunity to help with that.

Do you get a chance to come back and visit much?

I do! I still work with Bill on my swing; he's still my coach. It's always a good excuse to come back to Columbia and get some lessons.

What are your favorite memories from your time at Carolina?

My first year at school was Spurrier's first year so getting to watch our football team grow into a national contender was an unbelievable experience. We won a bunch of golf tournaments in college. Being able to go to these amazing places and play all around the country and represent the University of South Carolina was something I take a lot of pride in and still try to do.

What are you most looking forward to about playing on the TOUR at Greenbrier this coming year? 

The Greenbrier is an amazing place. Getting to play in a PGA TOUR event is a big deal and obviously I'm going there with good memories of the golf course. Knowing I'll have an opportunity to play a PGA TOUR event on a golf course I have good memories on is very exciting.

Do you think it will give you any advantage?

I'd like to think so! I don't have any bad memories or bad experiences so that's a good thing to carry over to such a big event. 


Check out video of Mark's reaction after winning the show:




Congratulations again to Mark and GO GAMECOCKS!!!


Gamecock Alum in Finals of "Big Break" Reality Show

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Earlier this fall we posted about South Carolina Men's Golf alumnus Mark Silvers making the cast of the Golf Channel's "Big Break" reality show! He has showcased his Gamecock pride on the show throughout the season and now he has made the final two! Check out a recap of this week's episode below and best wishes to Mark in the finale! Big Break airs on the Golf Channel Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.






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Check out a screen grab of Mark in his gear on the show!



Men's Golf Alum to Appear on Golf Channel's "Big Break"

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The Golf Channel released the cast of their next season of "Big Break" this week, including a Gamecock golf alum, Mark Silvers. The release describes the show as featuring "12 men looking to find their next step on the way to playing on the PGA Tour."  The series, shot and produced at the Greenbrier in W. Va., premieres Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET. 

Mark's bio from the release:

"Mark Silvers (25, Savannah, Ga.): Silvers competed in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, accumulated more than 15 wins on various mini tours in 2011, and has eight top-10 finishes and one win on the NGA Pro Series Tour in 2012.  He is competing on Big Break with a heavy heart, as his father - who introduced him to the game at a young age - passed away just prior to the filming of the series."

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Photo courtesy of GolfChannel.com

Check out some behind the scenes photos of Mark Silvers (including some Gamecock gear!) here.  

Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey in the PGA Championship

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Thumbnail image for Tommy Gainey_Cocky and Bag 2012-b.jpgGamecock Club member and lifelong Carolina fan Tommy Gainey is playing in this weekend's PGA Championship down in Kiawah Island, South Carolina!

You can track the progress on their online leaderboard!

Gamecock Kyle Thompson Playing in U.S. Open

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Round 1 of the U.S. Open kicks off today in San Francisco. Gamecock and PGA TOUR player Kyle Thompson is playing in the tournament.





According to the U.S. Open website, Thompson is in group 52 and tees off at 2:42 p.m. Pacific time (5:42 p.m. ET). You can follow the leaderboard online here. The U.S. Open is also televised today, noon-3 p.m. on ESPN, 3-5 p.m. on NBC, and 5-10 p.m. on ESPN. Tune in to hopefully get to catch a bit of Thompson representing the Gamecocks.


Thompson was recently back in the Carolinas as he attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for The Coop, our new golf practice facility in Cayce.  



Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony for The Coop, a new practice facility for the men's and women's golf teams, attracted a large range of people - Lexington County Council members, the mayor of Cayce, EPA officials, Athletics Director Eric Hyman and the teams themselves. Joining them was one special men's golf alum currently playing professionally on the PGA TOUR, Kyle Thompson, who came to town for the event.

"I just wanted to be a part of it. Being a part of the golf team is a big part of my history and I really wish we had had something like this when I was in school," Thompson said, smiling. "I think this is going to be huge especially on the recruiting trail. This is going to help put USC up with anybody in the country as far as facilities so I really think this will help us do what we need to do to compete for national championships."

IMG_2698.JPGThompson (pictured left) has remained actively involved with the team, returning last fall for the program's Alumni Weekend and staying in contact with Director of Golf Puggy Blackmon regularly.

"It's important to me [to stay involved]. I try to help the kids out, tell them they can call me anytime with questions and I'm happy to try to share what I've learned in the last 10 years of pro golf. Nobody in the world wants to see them do better more than me...I'm a Gamecock to the core and I do whatever I can to help out."

Thompson's next PGA TOUR event is the Byron Nelson Championship next weekend in Texas after playing in one of his favorite events, the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, last week.

"The Wells Fargo last week in Charlotte is one of my favorites because it's so close to home; I live in Greenville. The support up there is amazing; it's just an incredible tournament."

Good luck to Kyle and we'll be cheering him on just like he cheers on the Gamecocks!

"Inside the Roost" Tonight: Jerry Meyers, Bill McDonald

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1075 the game logo.jpgTune in to 107.5 The Game Monday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. for "Inside the Roost". Athletics Director Eric Hyman and host Derek Scott will be joined by two guests this week.

Baseball Assistant Head Coach Jerry Meyers will be on to discuss the start of the season and his pitching staff, including pre-season All-Americans Michael Roth and Matt Price.

Men's Golf Head Coach Bill McDonald joins the show as the team prepares for their first tournament of the spring season this weekend at the Seahawk Invitational in Wilmington, NC. 


"Inside the Roost" airs Monday nights from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 107.5 The Game with weekly insight into the world of college athletics and Gamecock sports from Eric Hyman and Derek Scott along with weekly guests. You can also listen online.
A great picture from University of South Carolina alumnus and PGA TOUR golfer Kyle Thompson made the rounds among Gamecock fans on Twitter yesterday:

Kyle Thompson-Tommy Gainey at Pebble Beach.JPGThompson posted the photo with this tweet:




Thompson (right) is posing with fellow Gamecock fan and new Gamecock Club member Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey in Pebble Beach, California, while playing on the PGA TOUR. Gainey (left) is known not only for wearing two gloves when he plays, but also for the Cocky head cover that he keeps on his driver. Thompson returned to Carolina last fall, along with fellow alum and PGA TOUR player Mark Anderson, for the Men's Golf Alumni Weekend golf tournament.

Great to see them representing their Gamecocks!


Follow Kyle Thompson on Twitter

Follow Tommy Gainey on Twitter 




With what may be one of the most remarkable stories in professional golf, Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey has gone from growing up a small town guy in Bishopville, South Carolina, and working in a factory to playing on the PGA TOUR - and he's taken his love of the Gamecocks along for the ride.

"Two Gloves" (a nickname earned long ago due to Gainey's unique style of wearing two gloves to play) has been a Gamecock fan his entire life while growing up playing both baseball and golf. While he says baseball is his first love, which might explain his baseball-like swing, once he discovered he had a knack for golf he wound up loving it more. Although he wondered how far he might able to go, he didn't immediately take aim at professional golf. Rather, after attending Central Carolina Technical College, he worked two manufacturing stints for A.O. Smith at their water heater plant in McBee, SC, playing golf as often as possible during his free time.

Fast forward to the present and his former employer is one of his sponsors, he's been named one of the PGA TOUR's Top 100 Players to Watch, and he collected seven top-10 finishes in 2011, including three third place finishes.

"You know what, it's unbelievable what he did this year. He's very talented. I love it because he's his own man and no one tells him how to do things," wrote fellow TOUR player Chris DiMarco on PGATOUR.com. (Yes, that DiMarco, former Gamecock fullback Patrick DiMarco's uncle.)

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While Gainey sports the A.O. Smith logo on his cap, shirt and bag, that's not the only constant presence on the course with Two Gloves. Gainey's Gamecock spirit is never far from him either.

"When I'm out here on the TOUR I've sported my head cover of Cocky; it'll always be on my driver," said Gainey, excitedly. "I'm not going to put any other cover on it. That's what Cocky does - he guards the driver for me."









Gainey recently decided to join the Gamecock Club and make a donation to the Garnet Way Campaign. He sought help from his agent, Paul Graham, who is also an adjunct professor at Carolina in the Sport & Entertainment Management department, and Jeff Crane, Director of Development in the athletics department.

"I made a donation to the Gamecock Club, not just because I could do it, but because I wanted to do it," Gainey explained. "I just want to help out the university. I gave what I could."

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Gainey with South Carolina Men's Golf Assistant Coach Don Hill


"Everyone has a different meaning of what the school stands for," Gainey continued. "If you ask me, I think it stands for class and respect. I'm just glad to be a part of it. They made me an honorary letterman of the golf team in 2011, and I was so humbled I didn't know what to say...that was unbelievable because I live, breathe, and die South Carolina athletics."


Follow Tommy Gainey on Twitter!


Want to be a part of the Gamecock Club? Click here for more information. Reminder that the renewal deadline for current members is coming soon - January 31, 2012. It's Great to be a Gamecock!

Thousands of South Carolina alumni made their way back to Columbia this weekend for Homecoming and two Gamecock alums who are now PGA TOUR cardholders were among them. Mark Anderson and Kyle Thompson both recently earned their PGA TOUR cards after strong performances finishing in the Top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list. They returned to Carolina this weekend to participate in a special alumni golf tournament with the current team.

"Time flies, seems like only yesterday I was here having a blast," said Thompson. "I'll get to see some people I haven't seen in years...I had a great experience here at Carolina so anything I can do to help my former team to improve and hopefully win a national championship."

As a member of the class of 2001, Thompson also participated in the All-Sports Alumni Reunion over the weekend, including recognition on the field during Saturday's football game. Former student-athletes who completed their eligibility in the years of 2001, 1991, 1981, etc. formed this year's reunion classes.

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Kyle Thompson, class of 2001, (left) and Mark Anderson, class of 2008 (right).


"It's just a fun opportunity to see a bunch of guys that I haven't seen in a while, see some old teammates, see some of the older players," said Anderson (class of 2008). "What a fun day, there's no pressure. It's just having a lot of fun with some old friends."

Both are excited to get their chance on the PGA TOUR for the 2012 season, which kicks off in early January.

"This will be my first time on the PGA TOUR; it means a lot," said Anderson. "It's the culmination of a lot of hard work, practice, dedication, and sacrifice. It's just the beginning, so it's not the end. It's going to be fun and I plan on having a really good time."

Thompson agreed, saying, "it's really exciting, I can't wait to play next year on the PGA TOUR and take my family out there with me...I've got some pretty lofty goals for next year and I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do."

Thank you to both Kyle and Mark and all the Golf alumni who came back to Columbia this weekend and we'll be cheering for you on the tour!


Special thanks to Media Relations Assistant Justin Holt for his assistance with this blog post. 


Kyle Thompson to Represent Gamecocks on PGA Tour

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Former South Carolina Men's Golfer Kyle Thompson earned his PGA Tour card after finishing 15th on the money list in the Nationwide Tour.

Check out the video below from pgatour.com and congratulations, Kyle!




Gamecock Alum Mark Anderson Earns PGA Tour Card

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After finishing at No.22 on the money list on the Nationwide Tour, South Carolina alumnus Mark Anderson has earned his PGA Tour card.

From the Beaufort Gazette:

This is what patience rewarded looks like -- a sunny Sunday at Daniel Island Club, Anderson surrounded by family and friends behind the scorer's tent after making eagle on the 72nd hole of the Nationwide Tour Championship to earn his PGA Tour card.

The Beaufort resident finished tied for 29th for the tournament and finished No. 22 on the Nationwide Tour money list, having earned $188,550 this year. He received the card from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem as music shook the walls of the club's ballroom.

"For the next couple days, I'll try to figure out what just happened," Anderson said. "It feels good."
Read the full article here.


Check out the video below from pgatour.com:



Mark Anderson.jpegTwo big golf events are happening this week in the Palmetto State and they will both include former Gamecock golfers. First, this week's Columbia Open, part of the eGolf Professional Tour, will feature George Bryan IV, Scott Feaster, Alex Hamilton, Mark Silvers III, and Paul Woodbury.

The tournament runs Wednesday-Saturday. Every player in the field will play one round at Columbia Country Club and one round at Cobblestone Park during the first two days (alternating each day), and after the cut, the final two rounds will be held at Columbia Country Club. Tee times and pairings can be found at egolfprofessionaltour.com.

Former Gamecock Mark Anderson (left) will tee it up on the PGA Tour this week for the second time as a professional, playing for the third straight year in The Heritage, which begins Thursday at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island. He played The Heritage as an amateur in 2009 after winning the Players Amateur in the summer of 2008, then earned his way in as a professional last year and this year. Anderson currently ranks 54th on the Nationwide Tour official money list.



Good luck to all the Gamecocks competing this week!

- Brittany

*Special thanks to Wes Todd, Media Relations Director for Men's Golf, for his help with this blog post.

Paulson Returns to Pro Golf After Five-Year Absence

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Five years, one month, 28 days.

 

That's how long it's been since former Gamecock golfer Carl Paulson has teed it up on the PGA Tour.

 

A mainstay on the PGA Tour in 1995-96 and from 2000-05 (and a member of the Nationwide Tour from 1997-99), Paulson has missed the last five years with a lingering back injury, but still holds conditional status on the Tour under the "major medical exemption" category.

 

But that streak comes to an end Thursday when Paulson will make his first start in a professional event since July 2005 when he tees off on the Nationwide Tour in the Albertson's Boise Open presented by Kraft.

 

Paulson won the Boise Open in 1999 that, along with another win that year at the Nike Utah Classic, propelled him to No. 1 on the Nike Tour (now known as the Nationwide Tour) money list and earned his PGA Tour card for the following season.

 

Paulson, the 1993 SEC Player of the Year and an All-American that year for the Gamecocks, was the medalist at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in 1995 and has made 202 career starts on the PGA Tour and another 109 appearances on the Nationwide Tour. With 99 cuts made on the PGA Tour, Paulson's career earnings are over $2.6 million with nine career top-10 finishes.

 

One of the great ironies about Paulson's extended absence from professional golf - in 1999, he set the Nationwide Tour record for consecutive starts when he teed it up in his 79th straight event at that year's Omaha Classic.

 

But a new streak can begin at 3:15 p.m. ET Thursday when he steps to the No. 10 tee at Hillcrest Country Club, where he is paired with another former Gamecock, three-time All-American Kyle Thompson.

 

The Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds of the Boise Open, running from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday and from 7-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

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"Golf in America" to Feature Fred Wadsworth

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Fred Wadsworth, a 1984 All-American at South Carolina and a 2010 inductee into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame, will be featured on Tuesday's episode of "Golf in America," a weekly program on The Golf Channel that highlights incredible people and how their unique stories and experiences are linked by the game of golf.

 

Prior to this week, Wadsworth was the last PGA Tour golfer to win a tournament after "Monday qualifying" for the event as he captured medalist honors at the 1986 Southern Open.  Tonight's show will highlight that accomplishment and provide a perspective on his life in the world of golf.

 

The timing for tonight's show couldn't have been more ironic - just this past weekend at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., India native Arjun Atwal earned his first PGA Tour victory, and he did it in the same manner as Wadsworth - winning the Monday qualifier. He became only the second golfer in PGA Tour history to pull off that feat, joining Wadsworth in a very exclusive club.

 

Wadsworth was a second-team All-American as selected by the Golf Coaches' Association of America and an All-Metro Conference in 1984 when he led the Gamecocks to a berth in the NCAA Championship. His ninth-place finish remains the highest individual finish for a South Carolina men's golfer at an NCAA Championship.

 

Tonight's episode is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET on The Golf Channel.


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Mark Silvers Playing in U.S. Open

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Former Gamecock men's golfer Mark Silvers (a 2009 graduate and the SEC's 2009 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in golf) will play in this week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. He is paired with Jason Preeo and Kevin Phelan and will tee off at 2:31 p.m. on Thursday and 9:01 a.m.  on Friday. South Carolina head men's golf coach Bill McDonald will caddy for his former player at the tournament this week.

For more on the U.S. Open, click here. Here's a couple articles about Silvers' trip to the U.S. Open:

U.S. Open: Silvers gets his break - Bob Spear, The State

"I'm still on Cloud Nine," Silvers said two days after securing his berth in this week's Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

He earned his spot the hard way, winning a sudden-death playoff on the second hole in sectional qualifying in Roswell, Ga. Considering a couple of near-misses since turning pro a year ago, producing under pressure made this achievement more satisfying.

USC graduate Silvers will aim to be carefree at Pebble Beach - Eric Boynton, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"I was very fortunate to have received a scholarship to South Carolina and I was just one of those people where I seemed to be getting better every year," Silvers said. "My fundamentals, my mindset, everything kept improving. Once I had my senior year I looked back from my freshman year to see just how much better I'd gotten. I feel if I keep progressing that way I have a really good shot at playing some good golf professionally."


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Golfers Challenge for SEC Titles this Weekend

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South Carolina's men's and women's golf teams compete at the SEC Championships this weekend with the men traveling to St. Simons Island, Georgia and the women traveling to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The men will play at the Sea Island Golf Course and the women will play at the NorthRiver Yacht Club. For coverage, visit GamecocksOnline.com during the weekend. You can also follow @GamecockMGolf and @GamecockWGolf for Twitter updates.

Check out these golf "intro" videos:


Great story on Gamecock men's golfer Paul Woodbury by Chris Dearing in today's edition of The State - click here to read more.

For the casual observer, Paul Woodbury's strong play of late would be a case of someone playing beyond their means.

But to anyone close to the Gamecock men's golf program, the senior from Lake City is finally capitalizing on the potential they have seen on the practice range for years.

"Since the time he arrived here, he's gotten a little bit better each year," USC coach Bill McDonald said. "People that have watched him play really aren't surprised at what he's accomplished this year. In the past, it's always just been a case that we were so deep he had a hard time breaking into the lineup."


Gamecock Hometowns: Men's Golf

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I've always loved looking at maps. I thought it would be cool to look at the hometowns of Gamecock student-athletes on a map and see where these players come from to form a team. Over the next few days, we'll take a look at the spring sports and show you a map of the player hometowns. Here's the men's golf team:



View 2010 Men's Golf Roster in a larger map


The men's golf team has the smallest radius of any of the spring sports as just two states (South Carolina & Georgia) are represented. Just by eyeballing it, I'd say Dean Hester (Dalton, GA) has the farthest drive home.

Golf Coaches on Inside the Roost Tonight

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Tune into "Inside the Roost" tonight on 107.5 FM at 7 p.m. as host Derek Scott and Athletics Director Eric Hyman discuss issues related to Gamecock Athletics from Staybridges Suites on Huger Street in Columbia.


Tonight's show features the head coaches for South Carolina's men's and women's golf teams - Kalen Anderson and Bill McDonald. 

You can listen live on www.1075thegame.com.

If you've got a question you'd like to ask on the show, send an e-mail to roost@ispsports.com, call locally at 404-6100 or 1-866-667-1075. You can also submit your question in the comments section of this post and we'll get it over.