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March 13, 2005

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – South Carolina freshman Mark Anderson burst onto the college golf scene over the weekend as he finished second at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship at the Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nev., Sunday. Anderson completed the tournament seven-under par and tied with UCLA freshman Daniel Im before falling in a playoff. As a team the Gamecocks placed eighth in an elite field that showcased the nation’s best teams.

Heading into the final round is sole possession of first place, Anderson fired a one-under par 71 Sunday, which left him tied with Im through 18 holes. The pair went back to number 18, a hole Anderson had struggled with all weekend, for the sudden-death play and Im came away with medalist honors.

“Mark was the hot player for us and I’m extremely proud of him,” Gamecock head coach Puggy Blackmon said. “His play this weekend was the most spectacular I’ve seen in a long time, especially for a freshman. He handled himself like a senior. He really turned heads and gained a lot of respect this weekend.”

Anderson began turning heads on Friday when he opened the tournament with a career-best 66 and ended the day tied with Im atop the leaderboard. On Saturday, Anderson carded an even-par 72. Anderson was competing in only his fourth collegiate tournament.

UNLV senior and defending national champion Ryan Moore placed third, finishing two shots behind Anderson and Im in a field highlighted by eight of the country’s top-10 ranked golfers, including players ranked one through six. Overall, the 15-team field featured 11 of the top 15 teams in the nation, and every school was ranked in the top 24 of the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

The No. 20 Gamecocks finished with a team score of 890 (+26) after shooting a 304 in Sunday’s final round, good for eighth place. Tournament-host and No. 18 UNLV won the event going away, finishing with a nine-under par 855 and 15 strokes ahead of the nearest competitor. Second-ranked Georgia (870, 6+) and No. 9 Florida (871, 8+) came in second and third, respectively.

“This was a great learning experience for our team,” Blackmon said. “Southern Highlands Golf Club is the site of the Las Vegas PGA Tour event, and they made the course much more difficult this weekend by adding 500 or 600 yards to it. It’s a tough course with high rough and firm greens. It was a glimpse of what we’ll see at NCAAs.”

Carolina defeated five teams that were ranked ahead of it, including No. 4 New Mexico, No. 6 Auburn, No. 11 TCU, No. 12 UCLA and No. 13 Texas.

“We didn’t finish strong, but we battled through. Nearly everyone on the team battled a stomach flu or respiratory problems. With the climate and time change, I think it was great learning experience for us and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,” Blackmon said.

Junior Eirik Johansen carded a three-over-par 75 for the third straight day. Johansen’s total score of 225 was nine-over par and put him in a tie for 40th. Junior Robert Svensson fired a 77 (+5) to bring his tournament score to 228 and finished tied for 54th place. Senior Alex Hamilton shot an 82, and closed the tournament tied for 58th place with an overall score of 230. Freshman Warren Thomas rounded out the Gamecock lineup with an 81 on Sunday. Thomas finished with a total score of 235, tying him for 68th.

The Gamecocks next compete in the Schenkel EZ-Go Invitational, March 19-20, at Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Ga.

2 Mark Anderson 66-72-71 = 209, -7
T40th Eirik Johansen 75-75-75 = 225, +9
T54th Robert Svensson 75-76-77 = 228, +12
T58th Alex Hamilton 75-73-82 = 230, +14
T 68th Warren Thomas 74-80-81 = 235, +19

Place, School, Score
1. UNLV, 294-281-280=855
2. Georgia, 296-281-293=870
3. Florida, 296-290-286=872
4. Oklahoma State, 292-284-298=874
5. Arizona State, 288-288-300=876
6. Georgia Tech, 297-286-304=877
7. Wake Forest, 297-283-304=884
8. South Carolina, 290-296-304=890
9. UCLA, 290-303-298=891
T10. New Mexico, 303-289-304=896
T10. TCU, 300-296-300=896
12. Washington, 293-303-305=901
13. Clemson, 300-297-306=903
14. Auburn, 299-300-306=905
15. Texas, 302-302-304=908