Silvers' 64 Propels Gamecocks into NCAA Championship
May 16, 2009
SORRENTO, Fla. - Senior Mark Silvers III did not want Saturday's final round of the NCAA Southeast Regional to be his last as a Gamecock. With the Gamecocks in a precarious position hanging onto the final qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship, it's safe to say he took matters into his own hands. Silvers fired a personal-best 64 (-7) to lead South Carolina to a team round of 269 (-15) and a tie for second place at RedTail Golf Club, earning a berth into the NCAA Championship which runs May 26-30 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
"That definitely crossed my mind," Silvers said about Saturday potentially being his last round wearing the Garnet and Black. "But I was just in a zone all day. My mind was clear and I was completely calm. I hit fairways all day long...heck, I even horseshoed a couple of putts on (holes) two and four. But it feels great to know that I've got one tournament left."
It was a record-setting day across the board for South Carolina. The team score of 269 ties for the second-best in school history, equaling their second-round total at the 2007 NCAA West Regional in Tempe, Ariz., and is only two shots behind the school-record total of 267 from the 1999 Red River Classic. In addition, the total 54-hole team score of 829 (-23) is the third-lowest in school history, also behind the same two aforementioned tournaments.
Silvers' round was only the fifth in school history under 65 and the first in 10 years; Kyle Thompson's 63 at the 1999 NCAA Regional is tied with David Seawell at the 1996 Gator Invitational for the lowest rounds in Carolina annals. With his 64 Saturday, Silvers joins Thompson and Daniel Brunson at the 1999 Red River Classic as the only Gamecocks to reach that number.
The senior from Savannah, Ga., got off to an inauspicious start with a bogey at the second hole to drop to 1-over. But that would be the only blemish on his scorecard. He birdied Nos. 3 and 5 to get under par, then made the turn at 3-under after birdies at 8 and 9. He carded two more birdies at 12 and 13 to get to 5-under, then made three straight pars before an up-and-down for birdie at 17. Silvers then took dead aim at a back-left pin location on the 18th and stuck it to 12 feet before rolling in his eighth birdie of the day to finish with a 64. For his efforts Saturday, Silvers earned a finish of 10th place after beginning the day tied for 37th.
Led by Silvers, the whole team put on a charge down the back nine. Over the final nine holes of the tournament, the Gamecocks were a collective 12-under as they carded 15 birdies against one double-bogey and one bogey.
George Bryan IV didn't card as many birdies as Silvers, but his round was impressive nonetheless. He carded four straight pars before a bogey at the fifth, but then played the final 13 holes error-free for a 67 (-4). A birdie at No. 8 started a strong run that included an unbelievable up-and-down for par at the 10th hole. He then birdied 12 and 13, then made another at the 15th and one more at the 17th to finish the day at 4-under. For the tournament, he finished 5-under and tied for 14th place.
The younger Bryan brother, Wesley, had a mostly clean scorecard with only a bogey at the seventh hole on the wrong side of par. He fired a 68 (-3) to finish the tournament tied for 14th place at 5-under. Bryan birdied the fifth and ninth to make the turn at 1-under, then saw a 15-foot putt for eagle at the 12th just slide by. He would still make birdie there, then card four straight pars before a birdie at the 17th.
Freshman Sam Braver, the low scorer for South Carolina on Friday, had his second straight round under par with a 70 (-1) that included three birdies and two bogeys. And junior Patrick Rada overcame two double-bogeys to shoot 73 (+2) as he notched four birdies on the back nine. All five South Carolina players made birdie at the par-5 17th hole.
Tournament host UCF never checked up for three days, running away with the tournament title by 11 strokes with a three-day total of 818 (-34). The Gamecocks finished tied with Georgia and Arizona at 829 (-23), and Iowa closed strong on the final day to earn the fifth and final bid to the NCAA Championship.
Arizona's Tarquin McManus was the individual medalist at 198 (-15), holding off a late charge from UCF's Brad Schneider who shot 63 in the final round to finish at 200 (-13). The Knights' Blayne Barber went even lower on Saturday with a 62 (-9) to finish at 11-under. Charlotte's Corey Nagy finished fourth and earned the individual berth to the NCAA Championship at 9-under.
The Gamecocks will have a week to prepare before heading to Toledo for the NCAA Championship, which will be held at the legendary Inverness Club May 26-30. The format will be 54 holes of stroke play, after which the field will be cut to eight teams. Those eight will then square off in match play to determine the national team champion. For the latest on Gamecock golf, continue to check GamecocksOnline.com.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS