May 26, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of South Carolina Men’s Golf team looks to bring home a national championship when they take part in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, to be held May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. The Gamecocks are one of 30 teams that will compete for the national crown over six days of action.
THIS WEEK AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
South Carolina is the No. 19 seed at the NCAA Championship, which begins Friday, May 27 in Eugene, Ore. The Gamecocks will be paired with Arkansas and host Oregon for the first two rounds. Friday’s round begins at 7:22 a.m. PT, with Saturday’s round teeing off at 12:42 p.m. PT. Sunday’s tee time and pairings will be determined by the leaderboard after 36 holes.
Following 54 holes of competition, the top 15 teams along with the top nine individuals not on an advancing team will advance for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match play competition and the 72-hole stroke play individual champion. Golf Channel will provide live television coverage from 7-10 p.m. ET.
The top eight teams after 72 holes will be placed into a bracket with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed playing the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed playing the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 5 seed in match play. Golf Channel will televise Tuesday’s match play contests from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and 6:30-10 p.m. ET, and Wednesday’s Championship Match will be televised live from 6-10 p.m. ET.
LAST SEASON AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
South Carolina finished 13th last season at the NCAA Championship in Bradenton, Fla. The Gamecocks posted a four-day score of 1187 (+35) and finished 15 strokes out of a match play berth.
Will Starke paced the Gamecocks in Bradenton, finishing tied for 16th at 289 (+1). Starke was under par in his last three rounds, including back-to-back efforts of 70 (-2) to end the Championship.
SOUTH CAROLINA’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
This will be South Carolina’s 20th NCAA Championship appearance as a program. The Gamecocks posted their best finish in 1988, when they tied for eighth at North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The team’s most recent top 10 came in 2014, when then-sophomores Will Starke and Matt NeSmith led the Gamecocks to a ninth-place result at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Two Gamecocks have posted top-10 individual results at the NCAA Championship. Mike Holland tied for 10th at the 1978 Championship in Eugene, Ore., and Fred Wadsworth tied for ninth in 1984 in Houston, Texas.
This is the second time the Gamecocks have made four straight NCAA Championships and the first time since 1996-99, while Starke and NeSmith will be the first Gamecocks to make their fourth individual appearances at the NCAA Championship. In addition to his T-16th result last year, Starke finished T-116th in 2013, and T-55th in 2014. NeSmith finished T-38th in 2013 and T-141st in 2014 in addition to his T-45th result last season.
Keenan Huskey and Scott Stevens will make their NCAA Championship debuts this week, while senior Sean Kelly will play at nationals for the third time. Kelly tied for 144th in 2013 and tied for 49th last season.
RECAPPING THE NCAA TUSCALOOSA REGIONAL (MAY 16-18)
South Carolina was one of five SEC teams to advance out of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. The Gamecocks placed second with a score of 852 (-12), four strokes behind Georgia. Carolina has now finished as runner-up at NCAA Regionals five times, including three of the last four years.
Matt NeSmith led the Gamecocks in Tuscaloosa, finishing second with a score of 208 (-8). His effort was the fourth individual Regional podium finish in Gamecock history, joining Kyle Thompson’s medalist victories in 1999 and 2001 and NeSmith’s own T-2nd result in 2013.
South Carolina was the only school to have three individuals finish in the top 10, as Keenan Huskey grabbed ninth (214, -2) and Sean Kelly took a share of 10th (215, -1). Will Starke came in 20th (218, +2) and Scott Stevens tied for 30th (221, +5).
NESMITH NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC SELECTION
Senior Matt NeSmith was honored as a First Team All-SEC selection on May 4. He is the sixth Gamecock to earn three All-SEC awards, joining George Bryan IV (2008-10), Eric Ecker (1998-2000), Eirik Johansen (2003-04, 06), David Seawell (1994-96) and Kyle Thompson (1998-2001). His 71.27 stroke average at the end of the SEC Championship paced the Gamecocks and ranked 10th in the SEC.
RECAPPING THE 2016 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP (APRIL 15-17)
South Carolina finished 10th at the 2016 SEC Championship in St. Simons Island, Ga., with a score of 879 (+39). The Gamecocks finished 26 strokes behind tournament champion Georgia. Senior Sean Kelly tied for 10th, his best career finish at the SEC Championship, by posting a three-day score of 215 (+5). Kelly’s Saturday 68 (-2) was the top round of the tournament for the Gamecocks.
Senior Matt NeSmith rallied to shoot Carolina’s best round on Sunday, a 72 (+2) to finish tied for 13th overall. The 2015 SEC Championship medalist ended the tournament with a three-day score of 217 (+7).
NESMITH GRABS SPOT ON JACK NICKLAUS AWARD SEMIFINALIST LIST
On April 28, senior Matt NeSmith was named a semifinalist for the 2016 Jack Nicklaus Award. NeSmith is one of 30 student-athletes in contention for the national player of the year honor. Finalists for the Jack Nicklaus Award will be named in May. Nicklaus Award recipients will be announced Thursday, June 2. NeSmith was also a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award, South Carolina’s first Hogan candidate in program history.
KELLY EARNS SOUTH CAROLINA’S MALE SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Senior Sean Kelly was named the University of South Carolina Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the season-ending Gamecock Gala on April 25. Now a graduate of South Carolina, Kelly earned his B.S. in finance with a GPA of 3.76. He is also a nominee for the CoSIDA Academic All-America award and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Kelly was not the only member of the men’s golf program to leave the Gamecock Gala with hardware. Senior Matt NeSmith was honored as co-Male Athlete of the Year along with Akaram Mahmoud of the swimming & diving program.
HUSKEY NAMED SEC GOLFER OF THE WEEK AFTER HISTORIC WIN
Sophomore Keenan Huskey was named SEC Men’s Golfer of the Week on April 6 on the heels of his six-stroke win at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate. It was Huskey’s first career SEC weekly honor and the third this year for the Gamecocks after Matt NeSmith was chosen on March 9 and March 16. Huskey’s Hootie victory was his second of 2015-16, which makes him one of just eight Gamecocks to win twice in one season.
Seniors Matt NeSmith and Will Starke entered the season with several career school records within reach. The duo sits in spots one and two for career scoring average with NeSmith in the top spot at 71.62 and Starke in second at 72.21. NeSmith won his fourth career individual tournament at the General Hackler Championship, which moves him into a tie for second in the Gamecock record books behind Kyle Thompson, and he now holds the school’s all-time record with 25 career top-10 finishes.
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.
STARKE SELECTED TO BYRON NELSON AWARD NOMINEE LIST
Senior Will Starke was named to the nominee list for the 2016 Byron Nelson Award. Starke was one of 10 players eligible for the award, given annually to a graduating senior who excels not only on the golf course but also in the classroom and community. Starke earned All-America honors from PING and Golfweek in 2015 in addition to garnering All-America Scholar laurels from Cleveland Golf/Srixon.
NESMITH WINS CONSECUTIVE SEC MEN’S GOLFER OF THE WEEK AWARDS
Senior Matt NeSmith was named Southeastern Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week on March 9 and again on March 16. He’s now won the award three times as a Gamecock.
NeSmith won the SEC’s top weekly honor after capturing medalist honors at the Palmetto Intercollegiate, held March 7-8 in Aiken, S.C., and then again after finishing as the co-medalist at the General Hackler Championship, which ran March 12-13 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He has won four career medalist honors.
Carolina returns seven golfers from last year’s squad, including seniors Matt NeSmith, Will Starke and Sean Kelly. The senior trio has played in a combined 119 tournaments for the Gamecocks during their careers and has recorded 45 top-10 finishes. Starke (second-team PING and Golfweek) and NeSmith (third-team PING and Golfweek) were named All-Americans last season and both earned first-team PING All-Southeast Region and All-SEC honors. They collected spots on the Golfweek Preseason All-America teams this fall with NeSmith landing on the first team. NeSmith was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus Awards, and Starke was on the initial Byron Nelson Award nominee list.
Newcomer Scott Stevens has quickly established himself as a potential fixture in the Gamecocks' lineup throughout the season having now appeared in South Carolina's top five for each tournament. He finished in a tie for 14th place in his first tournament, the Carpet Capital Collegiate, and followed with a tie for 20th at the Shoal Creek Invitational. At the Camden Collegiate Invitational, he took home a tie for 10th to mark his first career top-10 finish, and he fired Carolina’s best first round score, a 70, at the Ka‘anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational. In the spring, Stevens found a new groove, finishing in the top-10 in four straight tournaments beginning with the Palmetto Intercollegiate. Stevens now has five top-10 results this season. His score has counted in 30 of 36 rounds that he has played as a member of the lineup.
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