Oct. 30, 2012
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- With its first tournament title in three years on the line on Tuesday, the South Carolina men's golf team left no doubt about which team was going to come out on top as it posted a final-round 284 (E) to cruise to a 20-stroke victory in the Wendy's Kiawah Classic at Turtle Point Golf Club.
The Gamecocks, who had four golfers finish in the top 20, wrapped up the tournament with a three-round total of 859 (+7) to capture their first title since winning the Rees Jones Invitational on Oct. 6, 2009. South Carolina was also represented in the medalist trophy presentation, as sophomore Caleb Sturgeon claimed his first career tournament title following his second round of 68 (-3) of the week.
A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon finished the tournament with a career-low 54-hole total of 210 (-3). His closest competitor happened to be wearing garnet and black as well, with freshman Will Starke finishing two strokes back in second place after carding a career-low 69 (-2). He closed out the week with a total of 212 (-1) in his collegiate debut.
"It was a great win for our golf program," South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. "Having Caleb win his first college event and Will finish second in his collegiate debut speaks to how well we played this week. We dedicated this tournament to Marcus Lattimore on Saturday night, and I'm so proud of the team's effort this week."
With senior Dykes Harbin winning the AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic two weeks ago, Sturgeon's win marks the first time the Gamecocks have had medalists in back-to-back tournaments since Carl Paulson won the PING Intercollegiate and the Billy Hitchcock Intercollegiate consecutively in October of 1993.
For the second time this week, Sturgeon played his round without a blemish on his scorecard. He recorded three birdies and 15 pars on the afternoon. For the tournament, he tallied just four bogeys in 54 holes.
"It's an awesome feeling to get my first collegiate win," Sturgeon said. "Saturday night we decided as a team we wanted to have our play this week reflect Marcus Lattimore and how he plays football for the Gamecocks. Hopefully, this is the first of many tournament wins."
Starke put up similar numbers as he carded three birdies, one bogey and 14 pars in the final round. He had just eight bogeys on his scorecard in three rounds.
As a team, the Gamecocks had an average score of 72 for the day, which was more than five strokes better than the tournament average (77.52). Freshman Matt NeSmith and Harbin joined Sturgeon and Starke in the top 20. NeSmith turned in a 4-over 75 to finish tied for sixth with a total of 217 (+4), while Harbin placed 17th with a total of 220 (+7) after shooting a 1-over 72 in the final round. The top-20 finish is the third for NeSmith this season and the fourth for Harbin.
Junior Caulder Moore also had a solid week as he turned in a 76 (+5) to finish in a tie for 49th with a total of 229 (+16).
Winthrop was South Carolina's closest competitor as it finished the tournament in second place with a total of 879 (+27). Jacksonville State took third with a score of 885 (+33), followed by College of Charleston (890) and Marquette (896).
The Gamecocks will carry their momentum into winter workouts as they prepare for the spring season, which will get underway with the Redstone Invitational in Houston, Texas on Feb. 22.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS 1. Caleb Sturgeon (3) 68-74-68=210 (-3) 2. Will Starke (5) 70-73-69=212 (-1) T6. Matt NeSmith (2) 69-73-75=217 (+4) 17. Dykes Harbin (1) 75-73-72=220 (+7) T49. Caulder Moore (4) 75-78-76=229 (+16)
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