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May 14, 2008

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Gamecock Lineup
South Carolina brings five players to the NCAA East Regional who have played in a combined 13 NCAA Tournament events (7 regionals, 6 championships). The Gamecocks looking for team and individual glory at the event are seniors Mark Anderson and Warren Thomas, juniors Mark Silvers III and Patrick Cunning, and sophomore George Bryan IV.

Head Coach Bill McDonald
After steering South Carolina to its first NCAA Regional title in 2007 as its associate head coach, Bill McDonald assumed the full title of head coach this season. His official debut has yielded eight top-five finishes in 10 touraments, including five straight top-four showings en route to this event. The Gamecocks finished second in McDonald’s SEC Championship debut, the program’s highest finish since 1998.

Short Backswing
A few notes about each player’s season and previous NCAA Regional highlights.

  • Senior Mark Anderson has the most postseason experience in the lineup, playing in every SEC and NCAA event in which the program has competed since his arrival on campus and posting a 73.04 average in those nine tournaments. He is enjoying a career season with a 72.04 average to rank sixth in the SEC and 35th on the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings Index. He has six top-20 finishes in as many events this spring, including two top-10 outings.
  • Sophomore George Bryan IV, an honorable mention All-American last season, brings a 72.27 average into the weekend, which ranks 10th in the SEC. With a second-place finish in the SEC Championship, he became the highest placed Gamecock at the event since Kyle Thompson also finished second in the 1999 event. In four postseason events, Bryan has a 71.54 average, which includes his 204 (68-67-69) to finish 10th in last year’s West Regional.
  • Junior Patrick Cunning is making his first NCAA Regional appearance. His lone postseason experience was the 2006 SEC Championship, where he finished 47th as a freshman. This season he is fourth on the team with a 73.50 average over seven tournaments, during which he scored the first top-10 and top-20 finishes of his career.
  • Junior Mark Silvers III finished seventh in his first SEC Championship this season, although he was a key player in last season’s NCAA Regional championship and the team’s top finisher in the NCAA Championship in 22nd place. In his three postseason events, he has a 70.80 average and posted five sub-70 rounds.
  • Senior Warren Thomas took 12th place in the SEC Championship, his fifth tournament of the season, with a season-best 217 (72-74-71). He has been part of the Gamecocks’ NCAA Regional lineup in each of the last three seasons.His postseason average is 74.59, including a 74.00 mark in two NCAA Regionals.

From the Head Coach
“Everyone associated with the program is excited to be staying in the East. At first glance, I think the East Region appears to be a very solid collection of teams from top to bottom. We will have to play some very good golf to advance to the National Championship. The team and some of our individuals have received some nice accolades and quite a bit of attention lately. After having a good week of finals, it is now time to focus our energy and attention toward winning the next tournament.”

Follow the Action
Fans can keep track of the Gamecocks’ progress with hole-by-hole updates on

Gamecocks Against the Field
This season, South Carolina has competed in at least one tournament with all but six teams in the NCAA East Regional field. It’s no surprise that SEC foes Georgia and Auburn top the list with five mutual events. In three events – the Carpet Capital Collegiate, the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational and the SEC Championship – the Gamecocks were the top finisher among other East Regional teams.

SEC Championship Recap
South Carolina fired a tournament-best 278 in the final round of the SEC Championship to surge into second place, the program’s best showing in a decade. With four players finishing in the top 15 of the individual standings, the Gamecocks finished with a 54-hole total of 861 (-3), the lowest SEC Championship score in school history. Sophomore George Bryan IV also moved up two places in the individual leaderboard to finish tied for second place, the best SEC Championship showing by a Gamecock since Kyle Thompson finished in the same spot in 1999. His tournament total of 212 (-4) was the second-best SEC Championship score by a Gamecock, missing Alex Hamilton’s 2004 total of 211 by one stroke.

The Envelope, Please
When the Southeastern Conference announced its All-SEC teams this season, two Gamecocks – Mark Anderson and George Bryan IV – were on the first team for the first time since 1999. Anderson was on the first team for the second time in his career, while Bryan made his all-conference team debut.

Showing Some Medal
Sophomore George Bryan IV became South Carolina’s first individual medalist of the season when he took top honors at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational. The victory was the first by a Gamecock since Mark Anderson won the same event in 2005.

Tip of the Hat
Picking up his first collegiate victory over an impressive field at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational, sophomore George Bryan IV was named National Player of the Week by both Golf World and Golf Week in addition to drawing SEC Player of the Week honors. He was the first Gamecock to earn the national honor since All-American Kyle Thompson was tabbed such by Golf World on Oct. 13, 2000. Bryan became the first player in South Carolina history to earn the award from multiple publications in the same week.

NCAA Regional History
South Carolina is playing in its 17th NCAA Regional, competing in the East 13 of those times. The Gamecocks advanced to the NCAA Championship 11 of previous 16 times and have played in four other NCAA Championships, prior to the introduction of the regional format.

While it is not in the same region as last year, South Carolina will be looking to repeat as NCAA Regional champion. Last season, the Gamecocks traveled to the NCAA West Regional in Tempe, Ariz., and brought home the first NCAA Regional title in program history. Four members of that team are representing Carolina in this year’s East Regional – Mark Anderson, George Bryan IV, Mark Silvers III and Warren Thomas.

Postseason Promise
The five players South Carolina brings to the NCAA Regional have played a combined 43 rounds of NCAA Regional or Championship golf with a stroke average of 72.30. While sophomore George Bryan IV leads the way with a 70.00 average, it is junior Mark Silvers III that has shown the highest `wow’ factor in NCAA play. After playing in just two varsity events last season with a 75.00 average, Silvers played his best golf when it mattered most, posting a 70.29 average in the NCAA West Regional and Championship. He was the team’s top finisher at the NCAA Championship claiming 22nd place, the best showing by a Gamecock in that event since Jeff Hull took 13th place in 1988.

Home Grown Success
One look at the Gamecocks’ men’s golf roster and it is clear it is the University of South Carolina with eight of the 12 players choosing their state’s university after high school. The coaches have not just brought players from the home state to fill out the roster. They have brought the state’s elite high school golfers and made them the Gamecocks’ best. In the last three seasons, three of the team’s top five in stroke average have been from inside the state’s borders. Head coach Bill McDonald continues the trend next season, signing two of the state’s top high school players in Wesley Bryan (Chapin, S.C./Dutch Fork) and Clint Tolleson (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) to replace a pair of in-state seniors, Mark Anderson and Warren Thomas, who are in their last season.