May 28, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — A big closing stretch propelled the University of South Carolina Men's Golf team to a round of 285 (+5) on Saturday in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship. After 36 holes at Eugene Country Club, the Gamecocks are in 11th place, with a score of 572 (+12).
Vanderbilt leads the field through two days, with a total score of 563 (+3), while Southern California (565, +5) is two shots back and Arkansas (566, +6) rounds out the podium. Southern Cal's Justin Suh tops the individual standings after two days, at 135 (-5).
Most importantly, the Gamecocks are three strokes clear of the 15th-place cutline and just two shots behind Texas and Illinois (570, +10), who are tied for seventh. The top 15 teams and the conclusion of Sunday's third round advance to Monday's action, while the eight best finishers after the fourth round advance to match play.
Carolina slipped to 22nd place midway through Saturday's round but got back into contention with a tremendous closing stretch. The Gamecocks started their round on Eugene Country Club's back nine, the tougher of the two halves, and they were 9-over at the turn. But South Carolina rallied to play their inward nine in 4-under, including 10 birdies and an eagle.
Will Starke continues to pace the Gamecocks in Eugene. After 36 holes, the senior is tied for sixth individually, at 139 (-1). Starke posted a round of 72 (+2) and sits just four shots off the pace. His day included a pair of birdies, including a birdie on the closing hole.
Starke shared the tournament's individual lead after 18 holes and remains in contention for medalist honors after steady play on Saturday. The senior opened his second round with five straight pars before birdieing the par-5 15th hole; dating back to Friday's round, it concluded a stretch of 17 holes without a bogey for the Chapin, S.C., native.
Keenan Huskey shot a second-straight round of 70 (E) on Saturday, and he is tied for 15th through two days at 140 (E). The sophomore made the turn in 3-over but was on fire to close his round, carding a birdie on four of the final six holes. He notched consecutive birdies on the 4th and 5th holes and again on the final two holes.
Matt NeSmith matched Huskey's 70 (E) on Saturday, and he is tied for 64th after two rounds with a total score of 145 (+5). The senior carded a team-high five birdies on Saturday, and he took advantage of the par-5 holes, achieving birdie on both the 4th and the 15th.
Sean Kelly shot 73 (+3) on Saturday and shares the 101st position, at 148 (+8). After a tough start to the day, the senior got rolling on his last nine, coming home in 2-under. Kelly made birdie on the par-3 3rd hole and the eagled the 4th, one of just 12 eagles recorded on Saturday.
Freshman Scott Stevens is tied for 140th after 36 holes, with a score of 153 (+13). Stevens shot 78 (+8) on Saturday, with a birdie on the par-4 8th hole.
Quoting Coach Bill McDonald
"It's one of those rounds that's not pretty to look at on the scoreboard, but the guys really fought hard during the middle of the round to get us back into the top 15, which is huge. It means we'll get to go off in the morning wave tomorrow, and I'm just proud of how hard they fought. This golf course is so difficult, and you haven't seen many teams do what we did today - get off to a bad start and and then make a comeback."
Huskey's closing stretch included huge birdie putts on each of the final two holes. The sophomore's drive found the bunker on the par-4 8th, but he hit it to 20 feet and curled in the birdie putt. On the par-4 9th, Huskey's approach shot sailed over the green, but he holed out from the fringe to finish the day even par and pull two big strokes back for the Gamecocks.
Up Next for the Gamecocks
The Gamecocks will tee off at 7:55 a.m. PT on Sunday in the third round at Eugene Country Club, and they will be paired with California and Louisville. Fans are encouraged to follow Golfstat.com throughout the day for live scoring from the NCAA Championship.
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