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Sept. 13, 2007

COLUMBIA – South Carolina men’s golf tees it up for the first time this season at the Carpet Capital Collegiate hosted by Georgia Tech at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga., Sept. 14-16. Head coach Bill McDonald takes an experienced group to the season opener as the No. 20 Gamecocks face a total of 10 other nationally-ranked teams, including three of the country’s top five programs.

“We are excited to start the fall campaign, especially at this tournament,” McDonald said. “This event has one of the best fields we will see all year, and it is played on a great Tom Fazio-designed golf course. Our goal is to continue the momentum we created last spring and see if we can continue to compete at a high level. Having just completed the most competitive qualifier I have seen, all 12 players on our roster have proven their commitment to working hard and achieving that goal.”

Out of that hotly-contested qualifying, sophomore George Bryan IV captured the top spot. He comes off a freshman campaign that saw him play in all 12 tournaments and post the second-lowest average on the team at 72.75. Bryan posted a pair of top-five finishes, including a second-place showing at the Augusta State Invitational, which he led off with a career-best round of 66.

Juniors make up the rest of the Gamecock five, two of which were part of South Carolina’s NCAA West Regional championship last season. Florian Fritsch, who finished 18th at that event, recorded a 73.54 average last season to finish third on the team. Mark Silvers finished last season with the team’s top scoring average at 72.46, playing in four tournaments, including both the NCAA West Regional and the NCAA Championship. In the latter of the two postseason events, Silvers led the Gamecocks with a 22nd-place finish, carding two of the lowest scores of his career with a 66 in the second round and a 68 in the final round.

Patrick Cunning will play in the third position this weekend after qualifying for three tournaments and posting a 74.75 average last season. Rounding out the squad in the fourth spot is Allen Koon, who played in eight of the team’s 12 events in 2006-07 with a 75.48 average.

Including the Gamecocks and the host Yellow Jackets, the 22-team field includes six teams that finished in the top 15 at the 2007 NCAA Championship. Fellow Southeastern Conference members Alabama, Georgia and Florida are ranked Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively, while Georgia Tech (#8) and Clemson (#9) are among the top-10 teams in the field. Other squads boasting a preaseason national ranking are Tennessee (#14), Duke (#17), East Tennessee State (#21), Wake Forest (#23) and Georgia State (#24). N.C. State, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Augusta State, TCU and Texas Tech round out the field.

South Carolina has some successful history at the Capital Carpet Collegiate. Kyle Thompson picked up individual medalist honors in 2000 as did David Seawell in 1994. More recently, in 2005, then-freshman Baker Elmore knocked in a hole-in-one on the 11th hole on his third round.