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Feb. 15, 2008

COLUMBIA – South Carolina men’s golf opens its spring season as one of six top-20 teams playing in the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational for the second straight year. Hosted by the University of North Florida at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Fla., the three-day tournament begins on Sun., Feb. 17, and features No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Charlotte, No. 4 Alabama, No. 12 Tennessee and No. 18 Florida in addition to the 14th-ranked Gamecocks. South Carolina will take four experienced players to the challenging event, in addition to sophomore Bryan Miller who will be making his varsity debut.

“We are excited to get the spring season underway at this event,” head coach Bill McDonald said. “Sawgrass Country Club always provides a great challenge, and the strength of this year’s field is as strong as ever. I am thrilled for Bryan Miller, who makes his debut this weekend. He has worked extremely hard on his game for the past two years, and he is deserving of this opportunity.

“The challenge this week will be to remain patient and persistent on a very difficult golf course. I know that the team is ready for some live competitions after almost a month of beating up on each other.”

Senior Mark Anderson headlines the Gamecock team after posting a 71.89 average in the fall. He was the team’s top finisher at The Brickyard Collegiate and recorded a 2-2 record at the Calloway Golf Collegiate Match Play event, helping the Gamecocks to fourth place.

Posting the team’s top score in two of four fall tournaments, sophomore George Bryan IV had a 72.17 average in the fall as the only player to participate in all five events. He picked up a pair of top-20 finishes, including a third-place showing at the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate.

Miller qualified for the first varsity event of his career this week. He finished 13th at the Coker Intercollegiate, helping South Carolina’s Garnet Team to the title this fall. He played a pair of Garnet Team events last season as well, finishing in the top 15 of both tournaments.

Junior Mark Silvers III returns to the Gamecock lineup after qualifying for the fall’s first two events. After a 74.00 average in those six rounds, he will look to regain the form that carried him to a 22nd-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championship, where he carded a career-low 66 in the second round.

Senior Warren Thomas rounds out the team for the Hayt Invitational. He played one tournament in the fall, but is another player who helped the Gamecocks in their postseason run last spring. His career-best 67 in the second round contributed to the team’s title, and he was steady in the NCAA Championship as well.

The Gamecocks will be without the services of junior Florian Fritsch for up to a month after he suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Fritsch, who played in three fall events, underwent successful surgery to repair the injury and will begin rehab next week. McDonald anticipates him to return to the course in a month’s time.