USC Wins at Bulls Bay, Sets School Record

AWENDAW, S.C. — The fifth-ranked South Carolina men‘s golf team played one of its best rounds of the season on Tuesday, firing a final-round 271 (-17) at Bulls Bay Golf Club to pull away from the field and win the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate title. The Gamecocks claimed an 11-stroke victory with a 54-hole total of 838 (-26). The tournament title is Carolina‘s fifth this season, which is a school record. New Mexico finished second with a total of 849 (-15), followed by GRU Augusta (851), Virginia (852) and College of Charleston (856). As a team, Carolina recorded just four bogeys and two double bogeys on the day while making 22 birdies. Junior Matt NeSmith won his first collegiate tournament to lead the way. A native of North Augusta, S.C., NeSmith carded a final-round 68 (-4) to finish the round in a three-way tie for first with a total of 205 (-11). He joined New Mexico‘s Gavin Green and Coastal Carolina‘s Andrew Dorn in a playoff. All three golfers made par on 18 on the first playoff hole and went back to the 18th tee to play the hole again. Dorn was eliminated on the second playoff hole, as NeSmith and Green both made par to go to a third playoff hole. Green missed a par putt to record bogey, while NeSmith drained his par putt to claim medalist honors. Senior Caleb Sturgeon turned in one of his best rounds of the season, posting a bogey-free 67 (-5) to finish the afternoon in a tie for fifth with a total of 209 (-7). The top-five finish is Sturgeon‘s second this season and sixth of his career. Senior Will Murphy carded the low round of the day for the Gamecocks, shooting a 6-under 66. Murphy had just one blemish on his scorecard, a bogey on the par-4 fifth. He recorded seven birdies, including four straight on holes seven through 10. Junior Will Starke just missed a top-20 finish as he tied for 22nd with a total of 215 (-1) after shooting a final-round 70 (-2). Rounding out the lineup, sophomore Ben Dietrich shot a 75 (+3) to finish tied for 53rd with a total of 223 (+7). Round Changer As a team, the Gamecocks recorded just four bogeys and two double bogeys on the afternoon while tallying 22 birdies despite playing through extremely high wind gusts. Notable “¢ The win is Carolina‘s fifth this season, which is a school record for a single season. The Gamecocks had tied the record with a win at the Palmetto Intercollegiate, matching the 1990-91 and 2008-09 squads with four victories. “¢ The Gamecocks have also finished in the top five in eight straight events, the longest streak of top-five finishes in school history. “¢ Carolina has now won all three tournaments it has held the 36-hole lead this season. The Gamecocks also held the 36-hole lead at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship and the Palmetto Intercollegiate and went on to win both events. “¢ The Gamecocks have claimed the tournament title at all three events on the schedule held in South Carolina. Carolina also won the Camden Collegiate Invitational (Camden, S.C.) and the Palmetto Intercollegiate (Aiken, S.C.). “¢ Carolina ranked second in the field in par-5 scoring with an average of 4.71 (-22). “¢ The Gamecocks have shot under par in 13 of their last 14 rounds. “¢ The team‘s 54-hole total of 838 is tied for the sixth lowest total in school history. “¢ Carolina‘s round of 271 is the sixth lowest all-time at South Carolina. “¢ The win is NeSmith‘s first collegiate title. It‘s also his eighth career top-five finish, which moves him into a tie for sixth in career top-five finishes at Carolina with Eric Ecker (1996-2000). “¢ NeSmith has carded four-straight rounds in the 60s. “¢ NeSmith was second in the field in birdies with 16 on the week. “¢ Sturgeon‘s 67 was a bogey-free round. “¢ The top-five finish is the sixth of Sturgeon‘s career and second this season. “¢ Murphy‘s 66 matches his career low. Quotable South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald “It was amazing. I think we played two very important styles of golf this week. We played some tough stretches with a lot of wind very well. We also put the pedal down and made a lot of birdies when we needed to. It was just an incredible week for us. I‘m really happy for Matt NeSmith getting his first collegiate title here. The team really wanted to win this event, and it was just an awesome display of golf by the entire team.” Up Next The Gamecocks will return to action on April 17-19 at the SEC Championship. The 54-hole event will be held at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS *T1. Matt NeSmith (1) 69-68-68=205 (-11) T5. Caleb Sturgeon (4) 71-71-67=209 (-7) T12. Will Murphy (3) 73-72-66=211 (-5) T22. Will Starke (2) 69-76-70=215 (-1) T53. Ben Dietrich (5) 71-77-75=223 (+7) *Won in a playoff FINAL TEAM STANDINGS 1. South Carolina 280-287-271=838 (-26) 2. New Mexico 284-288-277=849 (-15) 3. GRU Augusta 288-288-275=851 (-13) 4. Virginia 286-292-274=852 (-12) T5. College of Charleston 295-283-278=856 (-8) T5. Auburn 285-287-284=856 (-8) 7. Duke 286-285-286=857 (-7) 8. Wake Forest 287-291-280=858 (-6) T9. Missouri 277-300-284=861 (-3) T9. Coastal Carolina 282-295-284=861 (-3) 11. North Carolina State 295-291-279=865 (+1) 12. Kentucky 291-293-287=871 (+7) 13. Wisconsin 300-299-293=892 (+28) 14. Winthrop 305-301-300=906 (+42) 15. Charleston Southern 315-315-295=925 (+61)

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks