Sept. 5, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina men’s golf opens the 2017-18 season this weekend at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. Expectations are high for a Gamecock squad that returns everybody from last season’s team.
Carolina advanced to its 10th NCAA Regional in the last 11 seasons a year ago, qualified for the first ever SEC Match Play at the SEC Championship (top-eight teams in stroke play), finished in the top-five in eight of its 12 events and won the Hootie At Bulls Bay Intercollegiate for the third consecutive season.
Head coach Bill McDonald overview of his 2017-18 squad
"We are looking forward to getting the season started at The Carpet Capital. I’ve been very impressed so far this fall with our guys competitiveness in qualifying and their overall work ethic. It’s always a quick and difficult transition from their summer golf to handling all of the responsibilities associated with school starting back up, along with our tournament schedule kicking back into gear. As a group, I see quality development from the returners and a talented freshmen class. It should be a fun and exciting year for our program.”
First up in the class-by-class breakdown of the 2017-18 team is the seniors. All-American and team captain Keenan Huskey is poised for a stellar final season. He played in all 12 tournaments last season and finished in the top-20 nine times en route to earning Second Team All-SEC honors and PING All-Southeast Region honors. His 70.63 18-hole scoring average ranked 15th in the country and was the third lowest all-time in program history. Ben Dietrich saw action in six of the team’s 12 events last season, tallying a 74.50 scoring average. He T-17th at the Camden Collegiate Invitational, his best individual finish of the season. Dietrich recorded a new 18-hole low after firing a 66 in the opening round of the Maui Jim Intercollegiate last fall.
McDonald on senior class
"Hard to believe Keenan’s a senior and Ben has been here eight years I think. Keenan appears to be healthy again after fighting an arm issue most of the spring and summer. I expect him to have a great year. Ben’s game has definitely improved and his experience and leadership is invaluable. We rely heavily on their production in all areas golf related but most importantly they’ve been great resources for their input regarding The Meatfest Menu.”
The junior class is led by Second Team All-SEC and PING All-Southeast Region selection Scott Stevens. He was one of two players on the roster to play in all 12 events. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native, logged the lowest scoring average (71.26) in school history for a sophomore in 2016-17. Stevens had three top-fives and seven top-20 finishes a year ago. Will Miles is back after playing in eight events last season. He posted a 73.50 scoring average and had three top-20 finishes, highlighted by a team-best T-15th finish at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional. He fired a final round 70 (-2) in extremely windy conditions to climb up the leaderboard on the final day. Ryan Stachler was in the lineup for 11 of the team’s 12 events a year ago. He logged a 74.28 scoring average and had two top-10 finishes. The Alpharetta, Ga., native, T-40th in his postseason debut at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional and won his match in the SEC Match Play Quarterfinals versus Florida’s Jorge Garcia, 3&2.
McDonald on junior class
“Ryan Stachler is out for the fall with a hip injury, but he’s expected to make a full recovery and should be good to go in the spring. Will Miles had a good summer and his game looks really good. Scott Stevens has been shooting some low scores in qualifying, and he’s starting to get his confidence back. These three have been great examples of what the term student athlete means -- great in the classroom, wonderful teammates and they can play a little too.”
The sophomore class is led by Jamie Wilson, who came on strong for the Gamecocks in the spring last season. He saw action in the starting lineup eight times and posted a 72.97 scoring average, the sixth best in program history for a freshman. He T-44th at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional and T-16th at the SEC Championship. Wilson helped propel the Gamecocks to the first ever SEC Match Play last spring after shooting a career-best 66 (-4) in the final round of stroke play at the SEC Championship. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice and had a career best T-5th finish at the Hootie At Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, which Carolina won for the third consecutive season. Wilson is joined by another talented sophomore in Caleb Proveaux. He played in six events a season ago and appeared in the starting lineup four times, posting a scoring average of 73.75. The Lexington, S.C., native, won the Oglethrorpe Inviational this summer with a final round 62.
McDonald on sophomore class
"Caleb and Jamie have certainly improved over the summer, and I am expecting them to contribute greatly this year. They’re both more comfortable, and they have matured in all areas. Caleb actually said hello to me the other day which caught me off guard a little but I considered it a monumental step after reflecting and meditating on its meaningfulness in a yoga class.”
A trio of freshmen join Carolina this season in Andrew Spiegler, Jack Parrott and Will Sheppard. Spiegler was a two-time individual state champion in Virginia and was named all-region and all-conference four times in high school. Parrott, a native of Columbia, was the 2014 South Carolina Golf Association Junior Champion. The four-time all-stater was the SCISA region individual champion three times at Heathwood Hall. Sheppard was a three-time all-state selection at Bishop England High School in Charleston. He played on three Class-2A State Championship teams during his prep years.
McDonald on freshmen class
" They’ve been thrown right into the fire with qualifying starting the first day of class. So far, they’ve each handled it well and their scores have been pretty solid with all things considered. They’ve been on time, worked hard and kept their mouths shut for the most part. I don’t think any of them have gotten lost going to a golf course or misplaced any equipment, but it’s early.”
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