Gamecocks Ready To Tee It Up At Bulls Bay |
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Bill McDonald’s Gamecock men’s golf team wraps up its busy March slate beginning tomorrow with the first round of the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, S.C. It’ll be the Gamecocks fourth and final tournament this month.
“The Hootie is a special event for a lot of reasons, and it’s been an honor to have won here the past two years,” said McDonald. “We are looking to defending our title against what is always a very strong field.”
Keenan Huskey, Scott Stevens, Jamie Wilson and Ryan Stachler remain in the lineup, while junior Ben Dietrich will be replacing freshman Caleb Proveaux this week. Dietrich is in the lineup for the first time since the All-American Intercollegiate, which was the spring opener Feb. 17-19. Wilson is fresh off a career-best 54-hole finish (T-29th) at the Valspar Collegiate earlier in the week. He shot a career 18-hole low in the second round with a 69 (-3). Sophomore Will Miles will be playing as an individual this week for South Carolina.
HISTORY AT THE HOOTIE AT BULLS BAY INTERCOLLEGIATE
The annual tournament began in 2005, and the Gamecocks have played in it every year since its birth. Under the direction of McDonald, Carolina has placed in the top-five six times since 2008. They have won the team title at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate the past two seasons.
Last season, Carolina shot 841 (-23) en route to its team title, winning by 15. The Gamecocks were one of just three teams to shoot under-par, along Auburn and College of Charleston. Keenan Huskey is the defending individual champion final tally of 11-under. The win was his second of the season as he became the eighth Gamecock all-time to tally multiple victories in a single season. All five Carolina players in the starting lineup placed in the top-10.
It’ll be another stacked field for the Gamecocks this week in Awendaw, as 10 teams are ranked in the top-50 of the latest Golfstat rankings.
Four fellow SEC programs are in the field this week in Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri and Ole Miss. It’ll be the first time this season Carolina has competed against the Tigers and Rebels.
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
Carolina has an off week and we’ll get back on the course at the Irish Creek Intercollegiate in Kannapolis, N.C. on April 8-9. It’ll be the final event of the regular season for the Gamecocks before heading to the SEC Championship April 21-24 in St. Simons Island, Ga.