March 5, 2013
DADE CITY, Fla. -- The South Carolina men's golf team erased a three-shot third-round deficit to tie North Carolina State in the final few holes on Tuesday at the USF Invitational, but it wasn't enough as a late birdie pushed the Wolfpack past the Gamecocks to claim the title at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club.
South Carolina was tied with North Carolina State at 3-under par with just one player each left on the golf course. Gamecock senior Dykes Harbin, who was 2-under on the back nine through six holes, recorded par on his final three holes to finish the day with a solid 1-under 71. The Wolfpack's Albin Choi made par on the 16th and 18th holes, but it was his birdie at the par-4 17th that lifted North Carolina State to victory.
The Gamecocks closed out the tournament in second place with a three-round total of 861 (-3), while the Wolfpack finished with a total of 860 (-4). South Carolina has now finished first, third and second in its last three tournaments.
"I was excited about the way we looked but just frustrated we didn't finish down the stretch," South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. "We couldn't make putts, and NC State did. It was a good experience for this team. I'm really happy for Dykes and his finish, and I think it's the best overall Matt NeSmith has looked this year. He really looked good this week, and that's exciting."
Four Gamecocks wrapped up the week in the top 20 led by Harbin, who finished tied for second with a total of 211 (-5). The finish is Harbin's fifth in the top 20 this season and second in the top five. After playing his first five holes of the third round at even par, Harbin made bogey at the sixth on his way to a 37 (+1) on the front nine. He got things going on the back side with an eagle at the 11th, his third of the week. A birdie on the par-3 14th moved him to 2-under on the day, but he bogeyed the 15th to fall back to 1-under, where he concluded his round.
NeSmith earned his third top-10 finish of the season with a final-round 71 (-1). NeSmith closed out the week with a career-best total of 216 (E). On the afternoon, the North Augusta, S.C., native recorded six birdies, five bogeys and seven pars.
Sophomore Caleb Sturgeon posted a 1-over 73 on Tuesday to finish the event in a tie for 14th with a total of 217. Sturgeon, who now has four top-20 finishes on the season, carded four birdies, five bogeys and nine pars on the afternoon.
Continuing his success to begin the spring, sophomore Will Murphy earned his second straight top-20 finish in a team event by tying for 19th with a total of 219 (+3) after shooting a final-round 76 (+4). Rounding out the lineup for the Gamecocks, junior Caulder Moore shot a 79 (+7) to finish the week in a tie for 41st with a total of 226 (+10).
Choi also won medalist honors with a total of 208 (-8). Sixteenth-ranked Florida State finished third with a score of 863 (-1), with South Florida (873) and Virginia (881) rounding out the top five.
The Gamecocks will be back in action on Monday, March 11 in the first round of the Palmetto Intercollegiate. The teams will play 36 holes on the first day and 18 on Tuesday at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS T2. Dykes Harbin (1) 68-72-71=211 (-5) T10. Matt NeSmith (3) 74-71-71=216 (E) T14. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 72-72-73=217 (+1) T19. Will Murphy (4) 73-70-76=219 (+3) T41. Caulder Moore (5) 77-70-79=226 (+10)
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