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Gator Invitational Notes
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Feb. 17, 2006

The No. 16 South Carolina men’s golf team travels to the Sunshine State for the third time this season and the second straight weekend to play in The Sun Trust Gator Invitational, hosted by the University of Florida. A practice round is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17. Play begins on Saturday, Feb. 18, and concludes on Sunday, Feb. 19.

The tournament, held at the par 70, 6,701-yard University of Florida Golf Club, features an 8 a.m. shot gun start each day. A total of 36 holes are scheduled for Saturday, with the final 18 played on Sunday. The Gamecocks are paired with Florida and Georgia State in the first and second rounds.

As soon as they are made available each day, results will be posted on South Carolina’s official athletics web site,

South Carolina rose from No. 20 to No. 16 in the first Golf Coaches Association of America Bridgestone Top 25 Poll of the spring, which was released on Feb. 16. A total of five Southesatern Conference teams appear in the poll, led by No. 1 Georgia. Florida is tied for fifth, Tennessee holds down the No. 11 spot and Kentucky is No. 13.

In the latest Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, the Gamecocks are No. 21. Freshman Florian Fritsch and Eirik Johansen are listed among the top 25 individuals at No. 18 and 25, respectively.

Head coach Puggy Blackmon will take a senior, a sophomore and three true freshmen to compete in the Gator Invitational. Senior Eirik Johansen, one of only two Gamecocks to participate in all five events this season, leads Carolina in the No. 1 spot. Freshman Florian Fritsch owns a pair of top-10 finishes in his first four starts will be at No. 2. Fresh off a top-10 finish last weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship to open the spring slate, sophomore Mark Anderson is the Gamecocks’ No. 3. Anderson has also played in all five events this season. Freshman Allen Koon will compete for the second straight weekend at No. 4 and freshman Mark Silvers will make his spring debut in the No. 5 slot.

The Gator Invitational field features five Southeastern Conference teams. In addition to Carolina, No. 1 Georgia, host and fifth-ranked Gators, No. 13 Kentucky and LSU will compete this weekend. In addition to the SEC contingent, the 15-team field features No. 9 Georgia State and No. 15 Wake Forest. Florida State, Tulsa, Georgia Southern, North Florida, UCF, Ohio State, Purdue and UAB.

Behind a pair of top-five finishers, South Carolina placed fourth at the 2005 Sun Trust Gator Invitational. Host Florida captured the team title. Eirik Johansen placed a in a tie for second and Mark Anderson tied for fifth.

USC’S 10-man roster features five players from the state of South Carolina. That group includes sophomore Mark Anderson (Beaufort/Beaufort Academy) and Warren Thomas (Columbia/Richland Northeast), redshirt freshman Patrick Cunning (Aiken/South Aiken) and freshmen Baker Elmore (Cheraw) and Allen Koon (Bamberg/Bamberg-Ehrhardt).

Senior Eirik Johansen has been named team captain for the 2005-06 season.

“This is the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve felt comfortable naming a captain. He’s now our captain, and he’s done an incredible job with a very young group of kids,” head coach Puggy Blackmon said.

A two-time All-SEC selection and honorable mention All-American, Johansen has been a leader on the links this fall. The Stavanger, Norway, native boasts three top-10 finishes and four top-20 showings in five starts. Johansen has been the Gamecocks’ best finisher three times.

The South Carolina men’s golf team shot the best round of any team in the field on the final day of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship Tuesday. Led by sophomore Mark Anderson and freshman Florian Fritsch, the Gamecocks placed in a tie for third against strong 15-team field at Sawgrass Country Club (Par 72 — 6,910 yards) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. On an overcast and windy day, Carolina shot 300 as a team and finished at 905 for the tournament, tying with Southeastern Conference foe Alabama for third in the team standings. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide were just four strokes behind second-place Texas Tech (901) and nine back of team champion UCLA (896).

Fritsch and Anderson both finished in the top 10 individually. Fritsch fired a final round 75 to wind up in a tie for sixth (74-74-75=223), the second top-10 finish of his career. Anderson matched the best individual round of the day by shooting even par at 72. The Beaufort, S.C., native improved his score each round of the tournament (79-74-72=225) en route to placing in the top 10 for the fifth time in his career.

Senior Eirik Johansen joined Fritsch and Anderson in the top 20, finishing tied for 17th (78-73-76=227), while freshman Allen Koon wrapped up the tournament in a tie for 25th (77-76-77=230).

In Golfstat’s latest (Feb. 16) Freshman Class Impact Ranking, South Carolina ranked first among all Division I men’s teams.

In the Gamecocks’ five events this season, 12 of the 25 sports have belong to freshmen. Florian Fritsch has competed in four events, while Allen Koon, Baker Elmore, Mark Silvers and redshirt freshman Patrick Cunning have all played twice.

Carolina (471.983) led the rankings, followed by Georgia (392.094) and Indiana (388.904). The Gamecock quintet has combined for a 73.84 average.

Freshman Florian Fritsch won year-long points battles in 2004 and 2005 to capture the German amateur equivalent of the European Tour’s Order of Merit for professionals. Fritsch’s German National Team coach, Rainer Mund, was recently in Columbia and presented the Gamecock freshman with medals he earned for the awards. Fritsch’s best finish of the 2005 season came in an event played at England’s Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s, a regular British Open site.