Gamecocks Kick Off Spring Season In Texas|
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina men's golf team kicks off the spring campaign this weekend in Humble, Texas at the 2017 All-American Intercollegiate presented by Coca-Cola. Two freshman, Jamie Wilson and Caleb Proveaux, will be making their debuts in the starting lineups for the Gamecocks.
Carolina is paired with Houston and Auburn in the opening round Friday. The first Gamecock will tee off at 10:48 a.m. tomorrow. Carolina's final first round tee time is slated for 11:20 a.m.
HISTORY AT THE ALL-AMERICAN INTERCOLLEGIATE
This weekend will mark Carolina's fifth appearance at the event, formerly known as the Bayou City Championship (named changed to All-American Intercollegiate last year). The Gamecocks have finished third or better every year they've competed, winning the event in 2015 with a score of 850 (-14). Last season, Carolina took third place with a score of 868. All-American Matt NeSmith was the runner-up medalist after shooting a final round 67 (-5) to finish the tournament 6-under. Sophomore Scott Stevens finished T-21 (+3) and junior Keenan Huskey finished T-46 (+9).
The Gamecocks are one of four top-40 teams via Golfstat in the field at this weekend's All-American Intercollegiate. Top-ranked Vanderbilt, No. 13 Baylor and No. 21 Auburn will provide stiff competition for Carolina. The Commodores and Tigers join the Gamecocks as the three schools representing the SEC in the event.
Host school Houston checked in at No. 58 in this week's Golfstat rankings. The Cougars finished second last season with a score of 856 (-8). They were one of just two teams to shoot under-par overall.
RECAPPING THE FALL
South Carolina finished in the top-five in three of its four fall events. The team took 10th (875, +11) at the Carpet Capital Collegiate on Sept. 9-11, fifth at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate (839, -13) on Sept. 23-25, second at the Camden Collegiate Invitational (859, +19) on Oct. 22-23 and fifth at the Ka'anapali Collegiate Classic (840, -12) on Nov. 4-6.
Sophomore Scott Stevens and junior Keenan Huskey, Carolina's two returnees from the team's magical NCAA run last spring, paced the Gamecocks throughout the fall season. Stevens finished the fall with a 69.58 stroke average, three tiop-10 individual finishes, eight rounds at par or better and six rounds in the 60s. His best individual finish was at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate, when he earned runner-up medalist honors after shooting 198 (-15). The low tally was the third-best 54-hole score in program history.
Huskey finished just behind Stevens with a 69.67 stroke average. He finished in the top-20 individually in all four of the team's events this fall, highlighted by a runner-up medalist finish at the Camden Collegiate Classic. The Greenville, S.C., native, shot in the 60s five times this fall and played eight rounds at par or better. Huskey shot 64 twice this fall, in the second round at the Maui Jim and the second round at Camden. The two 64s tied for the fourth lowest 18-hole scores in program history.
South Carolina finished the fall slate as the only school in the country with two golfers in the top-10 for scoring average. Stevens tied for 6th with his 69.58 stroke average and Huskey tied for ninth with his 69.67 stroke average.
RECAPPING THE 2015-16 SEASON
South Carolina advanced to its fourth straight NCAA Championship after a second place finish at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional behind SEC foe Georgia. At the NCAA Championship, the Gamecocks sat in 14th place heading into the final round of stroke play.
The team finished seventh after shooting a final round 277 (-3) to advance to the match play portion of the event for the first time in school history. The seventh-place finish was the team's highest ever in stroke play at the NCAA Championship. In match play, the Gamecocks fell to eventual national runner-up Illinois, 4-1. Then-freshman Scott Stevens earned the lone point for the Gamecocks.
Three of the five players from Carolina's NCAA Championship squad, Sean Kelly, Matt NeSmith and Will Starke, have graduated and moved on to the Canadian PGA Tour. Huskey and Stevens return for the Gamecocks this season. The team's final Golfstat ranking was 10th, marking the second-straight top-10 finish for the program.
Gamecock head coach Bill McDonald is the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history with 18. McDonald broke the previous record of nine held by Puggy Blackmon (1995-2007) with Carolina's win at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in September 2014. McDonald captured a school-record five wins in 2014-15 and snagged his latest victory at the 2016 Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks will be off for a couple weeks and return to action at the Palmetto Intercollegiate in Aiken, S.C. at Palmetto Golf Club. Carolina won last year's tournament by 18-strokes with a final score of 821 (-19). Three-time All-American Matt NeSmith took home medalist honors with a three-day total of 203 (-7).