Feb. 18, 2016
The University of South Carolina Men's Golf team opens the 2016 spring season at the All-American Intercollegiate, to be held Feb. 19-21 in Humble, Texas. Carolina will send student-athletes Keenan Huskey, Sean Kelly, Matt NeSmith, Will Starke and Scott Stevens to represent the Gamecocks, while freshman Will Miles will play as an individual.
The Gamecocks will join 15 other teams in Humble, including fellow SEC member Arkansas. Each of the three days features one 18-hole round. Carolina will be paired with the Razorbacks and Houston on Friday, with a start time of 9 a.m. CT. Start times on Saturday and Sunday will be determined based on the team leaderboard.
BREAKING DOWN THE ALL-AMERICAN INTERCOLLEGIATE
The University of Houston and Rice University host the 2016 All-American Intercollegiate, held Feb. 19-21 at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, about a half-hour north of the Bayou City. The Gamecocks are the highest-ranked team at the event according to Golfstat, checking in at No. 24, but four other top-40 teams will tackle the 7,422-yard, par-72 layout, including the host Cougars, Arkansas, Charleston Southern and SMU. Each of the three days features 18 holes of golf beginning at 9 a.m. CT.
The Gamecocks won the 2015 edition of the event, then titled the Bayou City Collegiate Championship. South Carolina recorded a three-round total of 850 (-14) to edge Sam Houston State by two strokes. Starke was the top Gamecock on the individual leaderboard, finishing tied for fifth at 212 (-4), while NeSmith tied for 13th at 215 (-1).
NESMITH NAMED TO BEN HOGAN AWARD WATCH LIST
Matt NeSmith was named to the 2016 Ben Hogan Award Watch List on Feb. 10. NeSmith is one of 25 candidates for the top award in men's college golf and the first Gamecock in program history to make the list. Awarded by Colonial Country Club, the Friends of Golf (FOG) and the Golf Coaches Association of America, the Ben Hogan Award presented by Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta) is issued annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer taking into account all collegiate and amateur competitions during the past 12-month period. The list of 10 semifinalists, which could include individuals not on the current list, will be unveiled on Wednesday, April 13. On Tuesday, May 3, that group will be pared down to three finalists. The winner will be crowned on Monday, May 23, prior to the start of the PGA TOUR's Colonial National Invitation Tournament.
RECAPPING THE SAVANNAH QUARTERS INDIVIDUAL INTERCOLLEGIATE (FEB. 8)
South Carolina sent three golfers to compete as individuals in Savannah, with freshman Will Miles pacing the trio. Miles (+5, 149) tied for 13th, while Ryan Stachler (+12, 156) placed 30th and Alex Handy (+16, 160) tied for 40th. Originally scheduled for 54 holes, the final round was cancelled due to inclement weather.
RECAPPING THE KA'ANAPALI CLASSIC COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL (NOV. 6-8)
South Carolina took on a strong field and finished in fifth place in their final tournament of the fall, carding a three-day total of 864 (+12), 27 strokes behind tournament champion Oklahoma. Individually, Huskey led Carolina with a sixth place result with a total score of 210 (-3). His second round score of 69 (-2) was the best round of the event by a Gamecock. Matt NeSmith and Will Starke tied for 36th, at 220 (+7), and freshman Scott Stevens finished 44th, one stroke back of the seniors.
Just one shot behind Stevens was Miles, the lone holdover to play in Savannah, who finished the tournament tied for 49th. His best round was his last, a one-under-par 70. The highlight of the day came on the 485-yard, par-5 9th hole, where he carded his first eagle of the season.
RECAPPING THE CAMDEN COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL (OCT. 24-25)
South Carolina captured the Camden Collegiate Invitational for the second year in a row, winning by 25 strokes over Charleston Southern. The host Gamecocks set a school record in the second round with a 15-under 265 to pull away from the field and coasted with a 285 on the final day for their first win of the season. South Carolina's 2-under 838 marked the first time in 2015-16 it finished a tournament under par. Sophomore Keenan Huskey captured his first medalist honor with a 5-under 205 to edge freshman teammate Will Miles by three strokes. It was Miles' first career tournament. Freshman Scott Stevens placed in a tie for 10th after shooting a 215 (+5), freshman Ryan Stachler tied for 22nd (+8, 218) and senior Sean Kelly was T-26th (+9, 219). For head coach Bill McDonald, it was his 15th career win at the helm for South Carolina, extending his school record over Puggy Blackmon by six.
RECAPPING THE TAVISTOCK COLLEGIATE INVITE (OCT. 18-20)
Senior Matt NeSmith earned a 16th-place finish (+4, 220) at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational after carding an even 72 in the tournament's final round at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, Fla. It was his third top-20 finish this fall in as many events and the 27th of his career. His 12 birdies over the course of the invitational were second-most in the field. The Gamecocks finished ninth in the event with an overall score of 887 (+23). Illinois (+1, 865) won the Tavistock Invitational after rallying from a 9-stroke deficit in the third round. Sophomore Keenan Huskey also turned in a solid final round, recording a 1-over 73. Huskey finished the event in a tie for 28th (+7, 223). Senior Will Starke earned a 34th-place finish (+8, 224), redshirt senior Sean Kelly recorded a 49th-place finish (+12, 228) and freshman Scott Stevens ended the tournament in a tie for 46th (+11, 227). Stevens' 3.00 par-3 scoring average for the tourney ranked him third among all competitors.
RECAPPING THE SHOAL CREEK INVITATIONAL (SEPT. 28-29)
Senior Sean Kelly led the Gamecocks with a 2-under 70 on the final day of the Shoal Creek Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., as Carolina finished the tournament in sixth place with a 54-hole total of 876 (+12). The Gamecocks entered the day in a tie for second at 6-over (582) with North Florida and College of Charleston, all seven strokes behind tournament host UAB (-1, 575) after 36 holes. The Blazers ran away with the tournament on the final day, shooting 12-under to win by 15 strokes over North Florida. Kelly shot 2-over for the tournament after carding a pair of 74s in the first two rounds combined with his 70 on the final day and took a tie for 12th place on the individual leaderboard at 218, his eighth career top-20 finish. Classmate Matt NeSmith was the low man for the Gamecocks at the tournament for the second time in a row with a 216 (73-70-73) to finish even and tied for seventh, the 19th top-10 finish of his career.
RECAPPING THE CARPET CAPITAL COLLEGIATE (SEPT. 11-13)
The Gamecocks posted a final-round 296 (+8) at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga., to finish in third place at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. South Carolina wrapped up the weekend with a 54-hole total of 880 (+16). Auburn captured the tournament title with a total of 868 (+4) after shooting a 287 (-1) on the final day. Carolina senior Matt NeSmith recorded his 18th career top-10 finish as he tied for seventh with a total of 217 (+1) after shooting a final-round 74 (+2). He tallied a pair of birdies and four bogeys on the afternoon. Freshman Scott Stevens concluded a solid debut for the Gamecocks with a tie for 14th with a total of 221 (+5). Stevens carded a 76, which included one birdie and five bogeys.
HUSKEY STEPPING UP
Sophomore Keenan Huskey showed consistent play in the Gamecocks' first three tournaments this fall by finishing T-24th, T-26th and T-28th in three events. He took it to another level at the Camden Collegiate Invitational hosted by South Carolina by snatching his first medalist honor with a 5-under 205 to help lead the Gamecocks to their first win this season. The Gamecocks also shot a school-record 265 in the second round with the help of Huskey's 68. Huskey shot under par each round in collecting the first sub-70 rounds of his career in the Garnet & Black.
MILES MAKES HIS DEBUT
Freshman Will Miles made his debut as a Gamecock at the Camden Collegiate Invitational and finished in sole possession of second place behind sophomore teammate Keenan Huskey. Miles fired a 2-under 208 (70-67-71) for the 54-hole event and earned himself a spot in the lineup for South Carolina's final tournament of the fall in the process.
Carolina returns seven golfers from last year's squad, including seniors Matt NeSmith, Will Starke and Sean Kelly. The senior trio has played in a combined 103 tournaments for the Gamecocks during their careers and has recorded 35 top-10 finishes. Starke (second-team PING and Golfweek) and NeSmith (third-team PING and Golfweek) were named All-Americans last season and both earned first-team PING All-Southeast Region and All-SEC honors. They collected spots on the Golfweek Preseason All-America teams this fall with NeSmith landing on the first team and Starke on the third team. Junior Ben Dietrich has played in 15 tournaments for the Gamecocks, including the 2014 NCAA Championship, while sophomore Keenan Huskey has played in seven tournaments and every event this fall. Senior Brendan Gramley has played in three tournaments as an individual.
Seniors Matt NeSmith and Will Starke entered the season with several career school records within reach. The duo sits in spots one and two for career scoring average with NeSmith in the top position at 71.88 and Starke right on his heels at 72.07. Starke is tied for third in career top-five finishes with 11, while NeSmith is tied for fifth with nine. Kyle Thompson and David Seawell share the school record with 14. NeSmith moved into sole possession of fourth place for career top-10s after tying for seventh at the Carpet Capital Collegiate to open the fall and now has 19 for his career with a seventh-place showing at the Shoal Creek Invitational. He is one shy of tying Eirik Johansen and Seawell for second place. Starke is tied for seventh with 14. Thompson holds the record with 22.
STARKE COMPETES IN EUROPEAN TOUR EVENT
Senior Will Starke competed in his first career European Tour event in late September, the Porsche European Open at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach in Bad Griesbach, Germany. Starke carded a 2-over 73 on his first day followed by a 1-under on the second for a 1-over 143 in two days. He finished in a tie for 100th place.
Gamecock head coach Bill McDonald is the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history with 15. 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 first this season when the Gamecocks repeated as champions of the Camden Collegiate Invitational.
Newcomer Scott Stevens has quickly established himself as a potential fixture in the Gamecocks' lineup throughout the season having now appeared in South Carolina's top five for each tournament. He finished in a tie for 14th place in his first tournament, the Carpet Capital Collegiate, and followed with a tie for 20th at the Shoal Creek Invitational. At the Camden Collegiate Invitational, he took home a tie for 10th to mark his first career top-10 finish, and he fired Carolina's best first round score, a 70, at the Ka`anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational. Stevens is the Gamecocks' top scorer on par-3s thus far with a 3.11 average and his score has counted in 14 of 15 rounds that he has played as a member of the lineup.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina returns to the Palmetto State for the Palmetto Intercollegiate, to be held March 7-8 in Aiken, S.C. Hosted by USC Aiken and Palmetto Golf Club, the tournament is the first of three events the Gamecocks will play in the month of March.
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