South Carolina Men's Golf Wins NCAA West Regional Championship|
May 19, 2007
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TEMPE, Ariz. - Behind a record-breaking performance, the South Carolina men's golf team claimed a two-stroke victory over second-place UCLA to win the 2007 NCAA West Regional at Karsten Golf Course (Par 72, 7,057 yards) in Tempe, Ariz. The Gamecocks recorded a three-round total score of 820 to finish 44 strokes under par and set a course and school record.
"The guys were focused all week and nothing fazed them," South Carolina associate head coach Bill McDonald said. "I kept talking about winning the tournament, not so much advancing (to the NCAA finals). I wanted them to taste victory. I felt like we were good enough to win earlier in the season. We had some opportunities and didn't get it done. I am tickled and proud of the effort they gave."
South Carolina entered the final round one stroke behind regional leader and No. 4 UCLA. The Gamecocks shot 10-under par (278) as a team Saturday to beat the Bruins, who were seven under (281). No. 10 Southern California and No. 18 Arizona State, the regional host shared third place with a final score of 824 (-40). Fellow Southeastern Conference team Vanderbilt caught fire on Saturday, finishing the third round at 21 under to surge into fifth place.
The Gamecocks, who came into the tournament as the No. 11 seed, held a slight lead on UCLA for most of the day, but freshman George Bryan IV's strong finish secured the win. The last player on the course for South Carolina, Bryan eagled No. 17 and a sunk a 40-foot putt for birdie on No. 18. The Chapin, S.C, product tied for eighth individually with a three-day total of 68-67-69=204 (-12). The 204 ranks tied for third in school history for a three-round individual score and is the best individual performance ever by a Gamecock in regional play. Bryan's finish is the best by a Carolina golfer since Kyle Thompson won the 2001 NCAA West Regional in Corvalis, Ore.
Sophomore Florian Fritsch and junior Mark Anderson tied for 16th on the individual leader board after posting a three-day total of 206 (-10), which tied for seventh-best three-round effort in school history. Anderson closed with a 70 (-2) on the final 18 holes while Fritsch carded a 71 (-1) Saturday.
"I noticed early on that both teams (South Carolina and UCLA) seemed tight," McDonald said. "It really helped us that Mark Silvers got off to such a good start. He make a couple of birdies early and made the turn at 32 (four under par). I think when our guys started to see the board and that we had a lead, that really helped. We got a burst of energy on the back nine knowing we had a chance to win.
As a team, South Carolina opened with a round of 273 on Thursday before shooting 269 on Friday. Those scores represent the two lowest rounds in school history while Saturday's 278 ranks fourth. Today's team round of 820 shattered the previous record of 845, set in the 1997 Palmetto Classic.
The team victory is the first for South Carolina since capturing the title at the 2005 Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate (Oct. 15-16). In 2007, the Gamecocks' previous best performance was fourth place on three occasions.
"I told the team in a meeting a little while ago that this will mean more to them as the years go by," McDonald said of winning the title. "It will really mean a lot. To me, it gives our program validity. Instead of just talking about what we want to do, we went out and did it. It will really help from a recruiting and coaching standpoint. It's what I need. The more they win, the more they will believe and expect to play this way. That will develop tradition and have a long-lasting effect."
The Gamecocks beat nine teams ranked in the top 25 this weekend. Carolina entered the regional ranked No. 33 by Golfweek and No. 36 by Golf Stat.
South Carolina will compete in the NCAA finals May 30-June 2 at the Golden Horseshoe Course in Williamsburg, Va. The top 10 teams and top two individuals not on the advancing teams from each of the three regionals move on to the finals.
South Carolina Scores (Final)
Final Team Standings