March 31, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Four years can come and go in an instant. Especially in college. And even more so when playing golf for the University of South Carolina.
Senior Alex Hamilton will graduate in May with a business degree after a successful career as a Gamecock golfer. He will play as an amateur this summer in tournaments up and down the East Coast and then will turn pro at the end of the summer. As for ending his career at Carolina, Hamilton has mixed emotions about graduation and leaving the program.
“It’s sad in a way,” he said. “I wish I could stay here longer and I wish I had red-shirted my freshman year. But I’m also excited in another way because it’s another challenge. I don’t regret a thing.”
Hamilton’s role as a senior is different from many other sports because golf is such an individual sport. Although the team plays and practices together, each golfer must motivate himself.
“You want to have leaders, but you lead more by example than you do by talking,” Hamilton said. “At this level, we know what we need to do to get ready and it’s up to you to make yourself do it. If you see someone who’s not, then you can step in and say something.”
Hamilton considers his greatest individual golf achievement to this point, winning the South Carolina State Amateur Championship during the summer of 2004. He battled a firm, hard course at the Columbia Country Club to take the title by six strokes. After earning All-SEC and Academic All-America honors in 2004, Hamilton had proven that he can win both on the course and in the classroom. He also lead Carolina at last season’s SEC Championships, finishing in a tie for fifth place.
As a team, Hamilton believes the Gamecocks’ best accomplishment during his career is blowing away a nationally-ranked field by 27 strokes in last year’s Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship.
“It was pretty special standing on the 18th hole knowing we had a 20-whatever shot lead with Oklahoma State and Clemson playing with us,” he said. “They were looking at their coaches and knew they couldn’t win. Our entire team happened to be on the tee box together and that hardly happens, so we were excited when we figured out what everybody had shot and realized it was over.”
The Aiken, S.C. native always was a Gamecock fan, but almost committed to Augusta State before a meeting with head coach Puggy Blackmon changed his mind.
“Going into that meeting, I just was going to tell him thanks for coming down but I’m going to Augusta State,” Hamilton said. “But as soon as I left the meeting, I knew I was going to be a Gamecock and I committed the next day.”
Hamilton has enjoyed success at South Carolina. Over the last three years, he has been in the Gamecocks’ lineup for all but two tournaments. Hamilton has turned in 12 top-20 finishes and six top-10 finishes to this point in his career.
Hamilton’s highest finish of the 2005 spring is a 10th-place showing at the inaugural Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, S.C. March 29-30. As the end of his career approaches, Hamilton hopes to again finish the season All-SEC and All-American.
“Those were my initial goals, but I haven’t performed and played that well this year,” he said. “But I feel like I’m starting to get a little bit better and starting to play some good golf again.”
“Hopefully by the end of the year we can put together a good run and win SECs. I think our team is talented enough to do it, but we’ve vastly underachieved this year. We have a lot of talent, as much as anybody else in the country.”