Gamecocks 10th After SEC Championship Opening Round
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (USC SID) — The University of South Carolina Men’s Golf team battled difficult conditions and tough competition to shoot a round of 292 (+12) on the first day of the 2016 SEC Championship. The Gamecocks are in 10th place with 36 holes left at Sea Island Golf Club, and senior Matt NeSmith leads the team individually.
No. 4 Georgia and Kentucky share the team lead through 18 holes after each posting a score of 277 (-3) on Friday. Ranked 13th in the nation, the Gamecocks are 15 strokes back of the leaders but only seven strokes out of third place on a very crowded leaderboard.
Vanderbilt’s Matthias Schwab leads the field individually after putting together a round of 66 (-4) to start the Championship. Only nine of the 70 players were under par on Friday in wind gusts that topped 30 miles per hour.
The defending SEC Championship medalist, NeSmith opened his last conference tournament appearance with a round of 70 (E), and he is tied for 10th. Like many of his Gamecock teammates, NeSmith got off to a difficult start before rallying to play the back nine in 2-under par. His round included two birdies and an eagle.
Senior Sean Kelly is also making his final SEC Championship appearance, and he is tied for 31st through 18 holes after posting a 73 (+3). Kelly did not record a birdie on Friday, but he was steady throughout the morning and posted 15 pars, including nine straight beginning with the 3rd hole.
Scott Stevens made his first career SEC Championship appearance on Friday and shot 74 (+4). He is tied for 38th with two rounds left. The freshman was 6-over par through 12 holes, but he steadied the ship and played the final six holes in 2-under. Stevens came home with birdies on the par-5 15th and par-3 17th holes.
Senior Will Starke opened his tournament with a round of 75 (+5), and he is tied for 47th. The senior made three birdies, including two in his final four holes.
Keenan Huskey played his first career postseason round on Friday and like Starke, he is tied for 47th. Huskey made par on his first six holes and shot 75 (+5) for the day.
QUOTING COACH BILL MCDONALD
“Hopefully we can get off to a little bit better start (tomorrow). We’re going to have more-or-less the same wind, if not a little bit more. I do think it will be coming out of the same direction, which is maybe a bonus, because we know after playing today what that’s going to be like. It’s just a battle out there, and we’ve got to understand that we’ve got 36 holes to make up the deficit.”
NeSmith’s eagle was the only one of the day for the entire field and a big factor in South Carolina’s back nine resurgence. Fueled by the senior’s effort on the 15th hole, the Gamecocks played the back side in +4 after combining to shoot 13-over par on the opening nine.
- – Starke was one of just 12 players to play the par-3 holes under par on Friday.
- – NeSmith shot his 20th round of par or better this season
- – The Gamecocks did a terrific job of hanging tough on a day when they combined for only seven birdies, second-lowest in the field.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks continue the SEC Championship on Saturday with the second round at Sea Island Golf Club. South Carolina will be paired with LSU and Alabama for the second straight round, with the first tee time scheduled to go off at 9:00 a.m. Live scoring is available throughout the day at Golfstat.com.