Gamecocks Finish Ninth At NCAA West Lafayette Regional|
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- South Carolina men’s golf wrapped up play at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional on Wednesday afternoon with a ninth place finish, ending the young team’s season just shy of the program’s fifth straight NCAA Championship berth. Winds were howling with 40 MPH gusts at the Kampen Course as the Gamecocks grinded out a 302 (+14). Sophomore Will Miles carded a stellar 2-under 70 with five birdies to lead the team on the final day.
Miles shot a pair of 35s (-1) in round three to finish T-15th individually in his NCAA debut. The Hilton Head Island, S.C., native, had a nine hole stretch in the middle of his round where he shot 4-under with four birdies and no bogeys. He stuck the ball tight to the pin, nearly hitting a hole-in-one on the 185-yard par-3 second.
Team captain Keenan Huskey carded a final round 75 (+3) to finish T-28th. The Greenville, S.C., native, shot 38 (+2) on the back nine to start the day and carded a 37 (+1) on the front nine. He finished with three birdies. The Second Team All-SEC selection finished in the top 30 in 11 of the team’s 12 tournaments during the 2016-17 season.
Sophomore Ryan Stachler finished T-40th (+11) in his first NCAA appearance after shooting a final round 79 (+7). The Alpharetta, Ga., native, tallied two birdies Wednesday. He was 5-over after his first nine holes then bounced back with a 2-over 38 in his second nine. Freshman Jamie Wilson, the third Gamecock in the lineup making his NCAA debut this week, also shot 79 in the third round to finish T-44th at 12-over. Sophomore Scott Stevens carded a final round 78 (+6) to finish T-54th (+14). The All-SEC selection was even thru seven holes, but triple bogeyed the par-3 17th, the hardest hole on the golf course, to shoot 4-over (40) on his front nine. Stevens was steady on the back, carding seven pars for a 2-over 38.
No. 17 UNLV held on to take the West Lafayette Regional Title at 8-over. No. 20 Auburn (+11), No. 8 Illinois (+14), New Mexico (+16) and Purdue (+18) rounded out the top five. Those teams advanced to the 2017 Division I Men’s Golf Championship at Rich Harvest Farms (Sugar Grove, Ill.) on May 26-31. Top-seed Florida, the No. 5 team in the country via GolfStat, shot 24-over in round three to finish eighth. Andrej Bevins of New Mexico and Nick Hardy of Illinois earned co-medalist honors at 3-under (213). Only six players shot par or better over the course of the three-day regional.
Quoting Coach Bill McDonald
“The wind was really humming all day. We came out ready to go. I can’t be disappointed in the effort we had today. The round that Will Miles had was incredible. Shooting anything under par out here is really good – even when the wind is not blowing. Bottom line is we didn’t play well yesterday – especially on the back nine. Keenan (Huskey) and Scott Stevens were a little bit off. They carried us a good bit of the year, and that’s really the story of this week for us. I think some of our youth and inexperience showed up at times in terms of how to play some of the really difficult holes. Hopefully the guys learned a lot and can build on it not only next year but going forward as well.”
Round Changer Will Miles
Miles’ two-under 70 tied with four other players for the best individual round on Wednesday. His T-15th finish was the 15th career top-20 for the sophomore and was his 16th career round of par or better. Miles and Huskey tied for the team lead with 10 birdies. They were two of just 16 players in the field to log double-digit red numbers.