April 24, 2018
Men's Golf at the 2018 SEC Championship
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The South Carolina men’s golf team kicks off postseason play on Wednesday at the 2018 SEC Men’s Golf Championship at Sea Island Golf Club. This year’s championship will be the same format as last season with 54-hole stroke play followed by eight-team match play.
Teams will play a practice round in the morning, with the first round beginning in the afternoon. The Gamecocks will be paired with Missouri and Tennessee, teeing off at 1:45 p.m. on hole 10.
All-SEC players Keenan Huskey and Scott Stevens, who have played in every tournament for Carolina the past two seasons, are in the one and two positions in the lineup this week per usual. Junior Will Miles will be slotted in the three-man position with senior Ben Dietrich and freshman Andrew Spiegler rounding out the Gamecocks’ five. Huskey and Stevens will be making their third appearance at the conference tournament, while Miles and Dietrich will be making their second trip to Sea Island. Huskey finished T-9th last year while Stevens finished T-23rd.
Carolina finished fifth in the stroke play portion of the 2017 SEC Championship to advance to the first ever SEC Match Play last spring. The Gamecocks fell 3-2 to No. 6 Florida in a tight quarterfinal match that went down to the wire. Vanderbilt would go on to defeat Texas A&M in the championship match the next day.
FROM THE COACH
“We’re looking forward to opening up postseason play this week in Sea Island. The weather forecast looks solid and the golf course is always in great shape this time of year. The match play element to determine our champion is very exciting, and we’re very much looking forward to competing for a spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The guys are ready to go and anxious to get out there.” -- head coach Bill McDonald
HISTORY AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
Last season marked the first time the SEC used its new match play format to determine the conference champion. Vanderbilt took down Texas A&M in the title match, 3-2 with the final point coming in a 23-hole match between John Augenstein (Vandy) and Andrew Paysse (A&M). Carolina finished T-5th after falling in the match play quarterfinals to No. 6 Florida, 3-2. The deciding point came when SEC stroke play champion Alejandro Tosti beat junior Will Miles in 20 holes. The Gamecocks finished fifth of 14 teams in the stroke play portion of the event after posting a 54-hole score of 849 (+9). Carolina was paced by top-20 finishes from Keenan Huskey (T-9th, -3), Jamie Wilson (T-16th, +1) and Scott Stevens (T-23rd, +3).
In 11 SEC Championship appearances under head coach Bill McDonald dating back to 2007, Carolina has finished in the top-five six times with three runner-up finishes. Three-time All-American became the Gamecocks’ third all-time SEC Individual Champion after earning medalist honors in 2015, helping the team to a T-2nd finish. The four-year standout shot a program-record 196 en route to the win.
It’s been another outstanding golf season for the Southeastern Conference with eight teams ranked in the latest top-25 of the Golfstat Team Rankings, including six in the top-12: No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Auburn and No. 11 LSU. No. 16 Arkansas and No. 19 Kentucky round-out the top-25 teams in the field. Three more teams, Ole Miss (No. 34), Carolina (No. 38), Missouri (No. 39) are ranked in the top-50. Georgia (No. 54) and Mississippi State (No. 56) round out the field, which is widespread with talent per usual, as 12 of the 14 teams have won at least one tournament during the 2017-18 season.
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.
The Gamecocks will await their fate for NCAA Regionals, which are set for May 14-16 at six different sites across the country. Regional fields will be announced live on the NCAA Men’s Golf Selection show on the Golf Channel at 5:30 p.m. ET on May 2. The top-five teams at every location advance to the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship May 25-30 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.
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