Feb. 10, 2004
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Paced by sophomore Eirik Johansen, who carded a final-round 67, to lead four individuals in the top 10, the South Carolina men's golf team turned in a dominant performance in capturing its second team title in as many outings with a 27-stroke win at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate. The margin of victory shattered the previous record of 15 shots, which was held by the Gamecocks in the 1998 event. The 54-hole tournament was contested at the par-72, 6,955-yard Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
"First of all, I couldn't be any more proud of a group of guys than I am right now," said USC head coach Puggy Blackmon. "They've worked so hard and to lead from start to finish against what will probably be one of the top fields in the nation this year is great. I think this would have to be one of the greatest victories in the history of the South Carolina program. We're just elated right now."
The Gamecocks were the only team to break par for the tournament, posting a final-round team score of 4-under-par, 284, giving them a 54-hole total 3-under-par, 288-289-284-861. That score was 27 shots better than Oklahoma State (308-289-291-888) and top-ranked Florida (299-300-289-888), as the 18-team field included five of the nation's top-10 teams.
"For us to be paired with the defending national champion (Clemson) and the runner-up (Oklahoma State) on the final day and continue to build our lead was just outstanding," said Blackmon. "It's a special win and it will certainly give us a lot of momentum as far as rankings and heading into the rest of the season."
In the individual standings, Johansen recorded seven birdies and a 5-under-par 31 on the front nine to card his final round 67 and finish alone in second place at 2-under-par, 71-76-67-214. The 67 matched the low round of the day and put Johansen three shots off the pace of individual medalist Jason Hartwick of Texas, who completed play in the tournament at 5-under-par, 71-73-67-211.
Joining Johansen in the event's final top-three was junior Jake Thompson, who concluded the best tournament of his career with a final-round score of even-par, 72. That total tied him with Clemson's Gregg Jones (77-66-72-215) for third place at 1-under-par, 71-71-73-215. Fellow junior Martin Rominger finished as one of four players tied for fifth place with his 54-hole total of even-par, 73-73-70-216.
The next South Carolina individual in the field was junior Alex Hamilton, who was part of a two-way tie for 10th place, following his 3-over-par total of 73-72-74-214. Sophomore Robert Svensson was the final member of the Gamecock contingent in the field, as he tied for 53rd place at 79-73-78-230.
Highlights from the tournament will be shown on the Golf Channel on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. South Carolina will now take nearly a month off before returning to action at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, which will be held at the TPC of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet, S.C.
FINAL TEAM SCORES 1. South Carolina 288-289-284-861 2. Oklahoma State 308-289-291-888 Florida 299-300-289-888 4. Clemson 306-284-299-889 Texas 311-297-281-889 6. Tennessee 303-299-289-891 7. LSU 305-300-290-895 8. North Florida 318-292-288-898 Kentucky 317-288-293-898 10. Georgia 314-290-296-900 11. NC State 315-295-295-905 12. Northwestern 319-297-290-906 13. Augusta State 319-295-297-911 14. Duke 314-300-300-914 Auburn 317-304-293-914 16. North Carolina 319-300-296-915 17. Florida State 326-298-295-919 18. Vanderbilt 322-301-299-922
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