Gamecocks Take 14-Shot Lead In Aiken
By USC SID
AIKEN, S.C. (USC SID) — Paced by a near-record performance in their afternoon round, the University of South Carolina Men’s Golf team holds a commanding lead at the 2016 Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate through 36 holes of play. The Gamecocks, listed 22nd in the latest Golfstat rankings, posted a two-round score of 542 (-18) on Monday to lead the field by 14 shots. Gamecocks Matt NeSmith and Will Miles share the individual lead with one round remaining at historic Palmetto Golf Club.
The Gamecocks fired a team score of 276 (-4) to take a four-shot lead after the morning round, then they kicked it into overdrive for the second 18 of the day. Carolina’s score of 266 (-14) is the second-lowest 18-hole performance in school history, just one shot higher than the team’s 265, achieved at Camden Collegiate Invitational in October.
NeSmith and Miles each tallied 36-hole scores of 134 (-6) on Monday to set the individual pace. Led by the duo, the Gamecocks are 14 shots ahead of Virginia (556, -4) and 30 in front of Augusta (572, +12).
NeSmith opened his day with a morning 67 (-3) and finished with an identical score in the afternoon round. NeSmith recorded eight birdies on the day and did not card a bogey in his second round.
Miles shot a 68 (-2) in his first round and came back with a 66 (-4), the tournament’s second-lowest round of the day, in the afternoon. The freshman eagled the par-5 10th hole twice and played his last 31 holes in nine under after starting the day with three bogeys in his first five holes.
NeSmith and Miles don’t have to look far to find their closest competition, as teammate Will Starke is tied for third with a score of 136 (-4). The 2015 medalist at Palmetto, Starke opened with a 70 (E) before closing the day with a 66 (-4). The senior finished strong, with three birdies on his final five holes. He’s one of just three golfers to post 10 birdies for the day.
Freshman Scott Stevens is tied for ninth with 18 holes left after ending the day at 139 (-1). He started the day with a 72 (+2) and was five strokes better in his second round, at 67 (-3). After starting his second round with 11 straight pars, Stevens birdied the par-4 13th to start a string of four birdies in six holes.
Sophomore Keenan Huskey shares the ninth position with Stevens, with a 36-hole effort of 139 (-1). Huskey put up nine birdies on Monday and dominated the back side of the course, posting eight of his birdies on the inward nine.
QUOTING COACH BILL MCDONALD
“I am really proud of how our guys came out prepared and ready to play today. The morning round was really solid, but the afternoon round was one of the best team efforts we’ve had in a long time. We are looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully building on our lead.”
NeSmith got off to a scorching start, with birdies on his first two holes, and he matched a season-best with his opening round 67. The senior birdied three of his final seven holes on Monday to post another 67. It’s his third straight round of 67 after also posting the score at the par-72 Golf Club of Houston in the final round of the All-American Intercollegiate.
- – Monday’s afternoon score of 266 is tied for second in school history. The Gamecocks also shot 266 in the second round at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational on April 3, 2010.
- – All five Gamecocks shot in the 60s on Monday afternoon.
- – Carolina needs a team score of 274 (-6) on Tuesday to equal the best 54-hole effort in school history, a score of 816 set at the 1999 Taylor Made/Red River Classic.
- – NeSmith holds the school record for best 54-hole score, a 196 at the 2015 SEC Championship. He and Miles can equal the feat with a program-record score of 62 on Tuesday.
- – Huskey and Miles each shot career-best rounds on Monday, while NeSmith and Miles achieved season bests.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks finish the Palmetto Intercollegiate on Tuesday with the tournament’s final 18-hole round. Fans can follow the team’s progress throughout the day atgolfstat.com, with a shotgun start scheduled for 8:30 a.m.