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Feb. 1, 2006

The University of South Carolina men’s golf team opens its spring season on this weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship, hosted by Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The tournament tees off on Sunday, Feb. 5, and continues through Tuesday, Feb. 7, with 18 holes played each day.

Six Gamecock players will participate in the Mercedes. Head coach Puggy Blackmon’s lineup includes senior Eirik Johansen, sophomore Warren Thomas, freshman Florian Fritsch, freshman Allen Koon and sophomore Mark Anderson. Redshirt sophomore David Kite will compete as an individual.

The 15-team field for the event features an SEC flavor as half of the league’s 12 teams are set to compete in the event. Joining the Gamecocks are Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee. Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Mercer, Missouri, Texas-Arlington, Texas Tech, UCLA, UAB and North Florida round out the field. Florida is the defending champion. The Gamecocks blistered the field by 28 strokes to open their 2004 spring slate with a victory. In 2005, USC placed in a tie for fifth at the event.

South Carolina is coming off a strong showing in the fall that included a team win at The Bank of Tennessee Ridges Intercollegiate. Johansen led Carolina in the fall with top 10 finishes in three of four events and a 72.58 stroke average.

Live updates throughout the tournament can be found at The Gamecocks are paired with Coastal Carolina and Georgia State in the opening round on Sunday and will tee off at 9:15 a.m.