March 17, 2018
Men's Golf at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational
PALM CITY, Fla.. -- South Carolina begins its second leg of four straight weeks of tournaments on Sunday at the 2018 Valspar Collegiate Invitational. The three-day event features one of the top fields in the nation as the top-three teams in the country will be competing this week alongside Carolina in No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 3 Georgia Tech.
Senior Keenan Huskey, senior Ben Dietrich and junior Scott Stevens remain in their normal positions fin the lineup. Junior Will Miles and freshman Andrew Spiegler return this week for the Gamecocks in the four and five positions. Miles, who started every tournament in the fall and was a key contributor, will be starting for the first time this spring after returning from injury.
This week’s course, Floridian National Golf Club, is one of the top venues for golf in the southeast. It was designed by the world-renowned Tom Fazio.
FROM THE COACH
“We’ve got a good team going this week. We’ve got a mix of youth and seniors. Last week we struggled a little bit, and I think we’ve got a little bit of motivation coming in. We’re on the second leg of four events in a row, so we’ve got some nice momentum. Guys are playing a lot of golf. I think they’re going to go out and prove something.” – associate head coach Jake Amos
HISTORY AT THE VALSPAR COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL
Carolina will make its fourth appearance at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational on Sunday. The Gamecocks best finish came in 2015, taking third in a loaded 13-team field. Three players finished in the top-20, led by All-American Matt NeSmith’s T-3rd finish at 3-under. All-American Will Starke tied the 18-hole school record with an 8-under 63 in the final round.
The Gamecocks shot 874 (+22) last season and placed eighth in a 14-team field. All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region selection Scott Stevens led Carolina, finishing T-2nd after shooting 1-under. The Gamecocks had 51 biridies, tying for second in the field. No. 10 Wake Forest won the event, shooting 859 (+7).
The Valspar Collegiate annually brings in the best teams in college golf and the tournament is no different this year as 13 of the 16 teams, including Carolina, are ranked in the top-40 of the latest Golfstat team rankings. Seven of those teams are ranked in the top-20 including No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 3 Georgia Tech.
The Gamecocks, Aggies, No. 12 LSU and No. 16 Arkansas will represent the SEC this week in Florida.
HUSKEY WINS ALL-AMERICAN INTERCOLLEGIATE
Senior team captain Keenan Huskey played lights out golf en route to medalist honors in the team’s first event of the spring, the All-American Intercollegiate in Humble Texas, Feb. 16-18. The Greenville, S.C., native, shot a tournament record 201 (-15), fending off defending NCAA Individual Champion Braden Thornberry of Ole Miss in the final round. Thornberry is ranked No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Huskey recorded zero bogeys in the tournament and led the field with 18 birdies. His 201 ties him for the fourth lowest score in school history. The 2017 All-American is now tied with Matt NeSmith and Carl Paulson for second on the all-time wins list with four career victories.
RECAPPING THE FALL
South Carolina had a rock-solid fall slate, finishing in the top five in four of the team’s five tournaments. The Gamecocks won the 2017 Camden Collegiate Invitational (Oct. 21-22) for the third time in four seasons with a 12-shot win over runner-up James Madison. Carolina finished 1-over par with a 54-hole total of 841. The Gamecocks took second place in the team’s final event of the fall in November, the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic (Nov. 3-5) in Hawaii. The Gamecocks shot a season-best 828 (-24), the fifth lowest 54-hole total in program history.
2017 All-SEC and PING All-Region selection Scott Stevens was outstanding in the fall, leading the team in scoring average (70.40), rounds of par or better (10), rounds in the 60s (7), top-10 finishes (3) and top-five finishes (2). The sophomore from Chattanooga, Tenn. finished T-3 at The Jackrabbit (Oct. 1-3) after shooting 205 (-11). He finished the fall with a bang earning runner-up medalist honors at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic thanks to a 202 (-11). His low score tied David Seawell for the sixth lowest 54-hole score in program history.
Fellow 2017 All-SEC and PING All-Region selection Keenan Huskey bounced back from a tough start to the fall in the season-opener at The Farm (Sept. 8-10) to finish in the top-15 individually at the team’s next four events. His two top-10s were second on the team as he finished with a 71.40 scoring average during the fall slate. The senior captain from Greenville, S.C. had a team-best sixth place finish at the Camden Collegiate Invitational helping the team secure its first win of the 2017-18 season. Stevens finished the fall ranked 10th in the Golfstat SEC Player Rankings.
Junior Will Miles had superb fall after working hard in the offseason. The Hilton Head Island, S.C., native ranked second on the team with a 71.20 scoring average. He was tied for second on the team with four rounds in the 60s. Miles tallied his second career top-five finish in helping the team to take second at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in Hawaii. He finished in fourth place after shooting a career-54 hole low of 204 (-9), thanks to a 66 in the opening round and a 66 in the final round. Miles and Huskey both ranked in the top-30 of the final Golfstat SEC Player Rankings for the fall.
Sophomore Caleb Proveaux, who started all five events alongside Huskey, Stevens and Miles, had two top-20 finishes and his first career top-10 at the Camden Collegiate Invitational (T-7th, +1). He tied for second on the team with eight rounds of par or better.
Gamecock head coach Bill McDonald is the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history with 21. 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 the team’s third-straight title at the 2017 Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate last spring. His latest win came this fall at the 2017 Camden Collegiate Invitational as Carolina won the event for the third time in four seasons thanks to three individual top-10 finishes.
Carolina will look to defend its title at the 2018 Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate (March 25-27). The Gamecocks have won the event the past three seasons. Carolina shot an 844 (-2) and was paced by Keenan Huskey and Jamie Wilson, who both had top-five finishes.
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