Gamecocks Set to Open Play in Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate
March 24, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina men's golf team will open play in its fourth tournament in four weeks when it tees off at the 2012 Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate on Sunday in Awendaw, S.C.
The 54-hole event runs through Tuesday at the par-72, 7,282-yard layout at Bulls Bay Golf Club. The Gamecocks are making their eighth straight appearance at the tournament, which South Carolina helped organize in its inaugural year in 2005.
"This is by far one of our favorite events of the year," South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. "(Bulls Bay) feels like a home golf course to us because we go down there and play a decent amount. The atmosphere is unique to college golf with Hootie and the Blowfish being involved with the activities down there. We are just excited to go play."
Carolina has played some of its best golf of the season heading into the weekend with two third-place showings in its last three events. The Gamecocks are coming off an eighth-place finish at the Chris Schenkel Invitational last week with a score of 864 (E), which included a season-low 277 (-11) in the second round.
"We had a great second round at the Chris Schenkel and then didn't quite get it done in the last round," McDonald said. "But I saw a lot of good things. I think this team is hungry to play well and contend again."
After playing with the same lineup the last two tournaments, McDonald has decided to make one change this weekend. Senior Wesley Bryan, junior Dykes Harbin and freshmen Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy remain in the starting five for the third straight week, while sophomore Blaine Woodruff returns for his third tournament of 2012.
Bryan has played like a senior leader in three tournaments this spring as he has produced a team-best stroke average of 72.47 and he became the first Gamecock to win a tournament since 2010 by claiming medalist honors at the Seahawk Invitational. Sturgeon has burst onto the scene after a quiet fall with two top-10 finishes. His scoring average of 72.83 is second on the team and is on pace to rank as one of the best averages by a freshman in school history.
"They have been really solid," McDonald said of Bryan and Sturgeon. "I also saw Dykes Harbin's game start to come around a little bit last week. He began to look like the old Dykes. Blaine Woodruff has been working his tail off to get back in the lineup. Will Murphy is so talented, and his game keeps maturing. It's a good five. We are going to miss Sean Kelly this week. He's had a really good year for us as a freshman as well, but we've got a really good problem to have in that we have some serious depth on our team this year and some great competition within our squad."
The Gamecocks have a history of success in the Hootie at Bulls Bay with four top-five finishes in seven appearances. Carolina's best showing was a tie for second in both 2006 and 2008. Last season the Gamecocks finished 13th with a score of 883 (+31).
The Hootie at Bulls Bay is known for drawing one of the best fields in all of collegiate golf, and this year is no different. Of the 15 teams competing, six are ranked in the Golfweek Top 50 and three are in the Golf World/Nike Top 25. No. 2 Auburn highlights the field along with No. 14 Texas A&M and No. 18 LSU, the two-time defending champion. Kentucky and Mississippi round out the SEC contingent, while Augusta State, host College of Charleston, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Wisconsin and Wofford are also slated to compete. The Gamecocks are 10-11 against the field this season.
South Carolina is paired with LSU and Texas A&M for the first round and will begin teeing off on hole No. 1 at 10:50 a.m. on Sunday. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.