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Feb. 28, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s golf team has opened its 2005 spring season with a pair of top-five finishes. USC competed at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 4-6, and placed fourth in the event. Junior Eirik Johansen paced the Gamecocks with a second-place performance.

Two weeks later, the Gamecocks returned to the Sunshine State (Feb. 20-22) with the chance to defend their 2004 Mercedes Benz Collegiate Championship title in Ponte Vedra. South Carolina led the field after the first day, but wound up tied for fifth at the end of the final day. Johansen, junior Robert Svensson and freshman Mark Anderson all tied for 11th-place on the individual leaderboard to lead the Gamecocks.

Head coach Puggy Blackmon shares his thoughts on his team through the first few weeks of the season.

On the team’s start:
“We had two top-five performances in our first two events of the year. It was great early experience for us as we were in contention for both titles.”

“Individually, we got solid performances from Eirik Johansen, Robert Svensson and Mark Anderson. We played eight different players, which gives an indication of team depth, something we’ll need for the remainder of the spring.”

On Eirik Johansen, Robert Svensson and Mark Anderson:
“Johansen, a former All-American, is returning to form. With improved putting, he could be in line to post multiple wins. Svensson has had a major breakthrough and is gaining confidence each outing. Anderson has been very impressive so far this spring. He is learning rapidly and is playing like a seasoned veteran.”

On the Gamecocks’ lineup in Las Vegas:
(In addition to Johansen, Svensson and Anderson,) Senior Alex Hamilton will return to the lineup in Las Vegas (at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship) following a couple of minor swing changes. Once he returns to playing the way he did last summer and fall, things could get very exciting.”

“Freshman standout and Columbia native Warren Thomas will complete the lineup for Las Vegas. He has had five rounds of 72 or under in competition. With confidence, he has the ability to overpower a course due to his exceptional length.”

On the upcoming trip to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. (March 11-13):
“The trip to Las Vegas will be the first trip west in quite some time. The field we face in there will be one of the strongest of the year. It should be great experience for the guys and it will give us a glimpse of the contenders for this year’s NCAA Championship.”