Sturgeon's 65 Puts Gamecocks in Second at SEC Championship
April 19, 2013
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Led by a career-low 65 (-5) from sophomore Caleb Sturgeon, the South Carolina men's golf team posted a 279 (-1) at Sea Island Golf Club on Friday to wrap up the first round of the SEC Championship in second place.
The Gamecocks are just four shots back of tournament leader Auburn (275). Carolina's round of 279 is the second lowest at the SEC Championship in school history. Sturgeon, whose round of 65 is the lowest ever by a Gamecock at the SEC Championship, leads the tournament by a stroke over Auburn's Niclas Carlsson and Michael Hebert and Georgia's Nicholas Reach, who all carded an opening-round 66 (-4). In all, three Gamecocks finished the day in the top five, as senior Dykes Harbin and freshman Matt NeSmith are in a tie for fifth after each shooting a 69 (-1).
"It was a really solid round today for the team," said South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald, whose team is looking to win the program's first SEC title. "Caleb had an unbelievable round, and it was one of the best I have ever seen. We got the ball out of the hole with authority all day and we are looking forward to the challenge tomorrow."
A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon played near flawless golf on Friday, hitting 16 of the 18 greens in regulation and keeping his scorecard bogey free. He started the day on fire, making birdies on the 10th and 11th holes to quickly get into red numbers. After recording seven straight pars to make the turn at 2-under, he went on another hot streak to start his back nine, making birdies on three of his first four holes. He closed out the round with five straight pars to get into the clubhouse as the tournament leader.
"I'm very pleased with my round today," Sturgeon said. "Obviously, to shoot 65 in these conditions you have to make a few putts and get a little lucky. I've been close to putting it all together the past few weeks, and I hope to put another good number on the board tomorrow for not only myself but for the team as well."
Harbin and NeSmith both came extremely close to matching Sturgeon with bogey-free rounds. A native of Augusta, Ga., Harbin had an identical start to Sturgeon as he made birdie on the 10th and 11th holes to get to 2-under. He then reeled off 14 straight pars before recording his only blemish of the afternoon, a bogey on the par-4 eighth. Harbin tallied a par on the ninth to close out his round at 1-under.
NeSmith got into red numbers with a birdie on the 14th hole, which was his fifth of the day. After recording five straight pars, he made birdie on the second and fourth holes and then tallied par on the next four holes to head to the ninth tee box at 3-under. However, he found trouble on the ninth with an awkward lie in the fairway bunker, as he went on to make double bogey that dropped him back to 1-under to finish the day.
Thirteenth-ranked Georgia is in third place with a score of 281 (+1), followed by No. 2 Alabama (283) and No. 21 Texas A&M (285).
The Gamecocks are slated to tee off in the second round on Saturday at 9:10 a.m. and will be paired with Auburn and Georgia. Live scoring will be available through Golfstat.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS 1. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 65 (-5) T5. Dykes Harbin (1) 69 (-1) T5. Matt NeSmith (3) 69 (-1) T51. Sean Kelly (4) 76 (+6) 67. Will Starke (5) 79 (+9)