No. 11 Gamecocks Set for NCAA Golf Championship at Inverness
May 25, 2009
TOLEDO, Ohio -- South Carolina finds itself among the final 30 men's golf teams in the nation this week at the 2009 NCAA Championship, which runs Tuesday through Saturday at the legendary Inverness Club. The Gamecocks are back in the championship for the third time in four years having advanced to the championship by placing second at the NCAA Southeast Regional two weeks ago.
The Gamecocks will send out the same lineup that shot 829 (-23) at the RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla., to tie for second place with Georgia and Arizona. They will be led by senior Mark Silvers III, who shot a personal-best 64 (-7) in the final round to propel the team up the leaderboard and into the top five, earning a berth in this week's tournament. Juniors George Bryan IV and Patrick Rada, along with freshman Wesley Bryan and Sam Braver, will round out the Carolina roster at Inverness.
It will be the 16th appearance overall for South Carolina in the NCAA Championship and the first since 2007. That year, the Gamecocks earned an 11th-place finish at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va., with a 72-hole total of 1136 (+16). The finish was the highest for Carolina since the 1998 squad also placed 11th. The only better finish for a Gamecock squad at the championship event came in 1988 when Carolina tied for eighth place in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
In the first two rounds, the Gamecocks will be paired with Stanford and Southern California. The teams will go off No. 10 beginning at 1:47 p.m. Tuesday, then they will tee off on the first hole Wednesday at 8:35 a.m.
Silvers and Bryan IV played in that 2007 championship and paced the team throughout the week. Silvers shot a 66 in the second round - his career-best until his 64 at this year's regional - and finished at 281 (+1) and tied for 22nd place individually. Bryan, meanwhile, had a strong first three days but struggled in the final round to finish with a 286 (+6) and a tie for 42nd place.
This season, however, the championship format is drastically different. Instead of a four-day, 72-hole medal play event as has been done in the past, the 30 teams will each compete in 54 holes of stroke play over three days, after which the individual NCAA Champion will be crowned. The field will then be cut to the top eight teams, which will then be placed into a single-elimination bracket for match play to determine the team national champion. The No. 1 seed will play the No. 8 seed (and so forth) in five singles matches with the first team to win three of the five advancing to the next round. All four quarterfinals and both semifinal matches will be played on Friday, and the national championship match will take place Saturday.
Inverness Club, the 106-year-old host of this year's championship, has a long and storied history that includes four U.S. Open Championships, two PGA Championships, the 1973 U.S. Amateur and the 2003 U.S. Senior Open. The two PGA Championships saw two of the most dramatic finishes in the event's history. In 1986, Bob Tway erased a four-stroke deficit to Greg Norman on the back nine of the final round, then holed out from the greenside bunker on the 18th to become the first player in modern history to win the PGA with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Then, in 1993, Norman again came up just short as Paul Azinger defeated the Shark on the second hole of a playoff to claim his first major title. This year, the venerable old track will play to Par 71 and 7,255 yards.
Live streaming video will be available through NCAA.com for the championship, and live scoring will be available through golfstat.com. Full updates will be available following each round on GamecocksOnline.com.
FIRST ROUND TEE TIMES - Tuesday, May 26