Carolina finished runner-up at last year's championship
Carolina comes up two strokes shy of winning program's first SEC title
Carolina holds three-shot advantage over No. 2 Alabama
Laurens, S.C., native leads the tournament by a stroke
Play begins Friday in St. Simons Island, Ga.
South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Championship at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga.
South Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Columbus Regional in Columbus, Ohio. (5/16/13)
SEC Championship - Round 2
"The University of South Carolina has the academics, geographic base and facilities to compete with the best programs in the country. We are also blessed to have a rich golf history and talent base within the state. I am in this business to win championships and compete at a very high level each and every year. I know that we can build a golf dynasty at Carolina because I can see it happening right now with the great young men who represent our program. I am extremely proud, honored and excited to be a part of the Gamecock Nation." - Bill McDonald
A highly successful collegiate golfer, former tour professional and accomplished instructor, Bill McDonald was named South Carolina head men's golf coach in the summer of 2007 after one season as the Gamecocks' associate head coach. During the 2006-07 season under then-head coach Puggy Blackmon, McDonald helped South Carolina to its first NCAA Regional title and its best showing in the NCAA Championship since 1998.
"I have wanted to coach college golf for many years, and it is a dream come true to have that opportunity at the University of South Carolina," McDonald said. "I feel so fortunate that I have my long-time mentor and coach, Puggy Blackmon, to call on and continue to learn from. Puggy has taught me to dream big and to always strive for greatness. I truly enjoy the process of working with college golfers and seeing them mature in all areas of their lives gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. I feel like my experiences playing the game at a high level and teaching it as well have helped me communicate with our players during my time here."
"Having coached and worked with Bill for over 20 years, I am excited that Bill is heading up our men's program," Blackmon said. "His background as a player and teacher coupled with his enthusiasm, knowledge and competitiveness should make him one of the nation's premier coaches in a short period of time. We share a common vision and commitment to bringing an NCAA Championship to South Carolina."
In McDonald's seven years at South Carolina - six as head coach and one as associate head coach - the Gamecocks have won or shared eight team tournament titles - including the 2007 NCAA West Regional. Nine times, a Gamecock has earned or shared individual medalist honors under McDonald, including three by Paul Woodbury and two each from George Bryan IV and Wesley Bryan.
Seven of the 10 best single-round team scores in school history have come during the McDonald era, including a school- and tournament-record 266 (22-under-par) in the second round of the 2010 Administaff Augusta State Invitational, where the Gamecocks finished second to eventual national champion Augusta State. In addition, seven of the top 10 tournament totals (54 holes) have come during McDonald's time in Columbia.
Four of the school's all-time top 10 in scoring average have played their college golf under the tutelage of McDonald. George Bryan IV is the school's all-time leader at 72.37. Bryan IV is also one of five All-SEC selections and one of three All-Americans that have played for the Gamecocks in the Bill McDonald era.
Last season McDonald led South Carolina to one of the most successful campaigns of his tenure. The Gamecocks recorded eight top-five finishes, with seventh of those being third or higher. Carolina captured the Wendy's Kiawah Classic title by 20 strokes, which was the program's first tournament win since 2009. The Gamecocks finished runner-up at the SEC Championship and tied for second at the NCAA Columbus Regional, securing the program's first NCAA Championship berth since 2009. Dykes Harbin (AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic) and Caleb Sturgeon (Wendy's Kiawah Classic) won medalist honors in back-to-back tournaments, marking the first time the Gamecocks have had medalists in back-to-back events since Carl Paulson won two straight in October of 1993. The Gamecocks also had a strong presence on the postseason awards list. Matt NeSmith earned PING honorable mention All-American and PING All-Southeast Region honors. He was also named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Harbin was a second-team All-SEC selection and was named to the PING All-Southeast Region Team.
McDonald opened his first season as a head coach with a bang as the Gamecocks tied for first at the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate and took fourth at the Callaway Golf Match Play event to close the Fall 2007 campaign. South Carolina went on to finish in the top four in five of its six spring events, including a second-place showing at the SEC Championship. It was the Gamecocks' first top-five finish at the conference event since 2003 and the highest placing by the program since the 1998 squad also took second place.
His second season at the helm proved to be an even-bigger success. The 2008-09 Gamecocks tied a school record by winning four tournament titles - Mason Rudolph Invitational, Rees Jones Intercollegiate, Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational, Cavalier Classic - and returned to the NCAA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. A tie for second at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Sorrento, Fla., propelled the Gamecocks to the national tournament for the third time in four years. Mark Silvers III and George Bryan IV were named GCAA/Ping All-Americans, and Silvers was named the Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
His 2010 squad kept up the pace, winning a pair of tournament titles, moving into the nation's top 10 for a large portion of the season, and advancing to the NCAA East Regional. Bryan IV earned his third All-America nod, becoming just the third player in school history to be named an All-American three years, and Wesley Bryan and Paul Woodbury were named to the All-Southeast Region team.
In 2012 McDonald guided the Gamecocks to four top-five finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Rees Jones Invitational. Carolina received its fourth NCAA Regional bid in five years under McDonald as it traveled to Norman, Okla., for the NCAA Southwest Regional. The Gamecocks finished eighth at the regional, with Wesley Bryan leading the way with a tie for 18th showing.
Coming to the University was actually a return to Columbia for McDonald. He began his teaching career as the director of instruction at the University Club (now Cobblestone Park) from 1996 to 1998. McDonald left Columbia to get back to his home state as an instructor at The Atlanta Golf Center in Norcross, Ga. until 2000. During his final year in that position, he helped design and build the City Club Golf Academy, a driving range and golf academy on a land fill near downtown Atlanta, then was the director of instruction at the facility until 2003. McDonald left that venture for another start-up organization as he was a founding partner and instructor at the Atlanta-based company Accelerized Golf. In 2006, he was named director of instruction at Cartersville Country Club, where he remained until joining the Gamecock staff.
During his 10 years of teaching, McDonald was well-known around the Southeast for his ability to develop junior golfers into college players. He coached more than 50 girls and boys that went on to receive college scholarships. In 2005, McDonald was a featured instructor on The Golf Channel's "Your Game Night."
McDonald got his coaching start as an assistant to Blackmon at Georgia Tech in 1994-95. That season the Yellow Jackets, who finished second in the ACC Tournament, qualified for their seventh-straight NCAA Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio. McDonald's focus with the team, which featured winner of the Fred Haskins and Jack Nicklaus Awards Stewart Cink, was on recruiting, physical conditioning and helping to develop the team's depth. McDonald helped recruit and sign Carlton Forrester, who went on to become an All-American.
McDonald played his college golf for Blackmon at Georgia Tech (1985-88) where he was the runner-up at the 1988 NCAA Championship and a two-time All-American (1985, 1988). As a senior in 1988, his second-place finished helped the Yellow Jackets to seventh in the team standings, then the highest finish in school history. McDonald went on to compete professionally from 1989 to 1994, playing in South Africa and Canada and several PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour events.
Still an active player, McDonald has competed in three PGA Professional National Championships (2003, 2004, 2006) and won the Big Oak Putter Classic in 2006. In addition, he has been a top-10 player in the Georgia PGA Section for the last five years.
McDonald, who earned his bachelor of science in industrial management in 1989, was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He has been a member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America since 2002. McDonald and his wife, Tanya, are the parents of two boys, Trace and Tyler.
The McDonald FileCoaching Career
2007-present: Head Coach, University of South Carolina
2006-07: Associate Head Coach, University of South Carolina
1994-95: Assistant Coach, Georgia Tech