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May 15, 2008

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – No. 7 South Carolina men’s golf battled moderate but steady rain throughout the first round of the NCAA East Regional today at Council Fire Golf Club. The Gamecocks shot 288 (+4) to sit in 22nd place in the 27-team field with senior Mark Anderson leading the way at 69 (-2) in 21st place. With the top 10 teams advancing to the NCAA Championship at the end of the 54-hole event, South Carolina is seven shots behind three teams tied for eighth heading into Friday’s second round.

“The main thing is that we are still in it after a sloppy round today,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “We’ll have to play well the next two days, but a good round tomorrow will get us back where we need to be to advance.”

Anderson’s scorecard was the cleanest among the Gamecocks as he sprinkled three birdies in with his 14 pars and one bogey. Two of his birdies came on the course’s four par-5s.

Junior Mark Silvers III carded a steady 71 (E) after opening his round with a birdie on the first hole. After another birdie on the par-5 sixth, he made the turn at one-under. After working his way out of trouble on No. 11 to make par, Silvers bogeyed the par-3 12th to fall back to even. He made the stroke back with a birdie on the par-5 13th. He was one-under heading into the final hole, but fell back to even with an extra putt, sending him back to 46th place.

With a team-high four birdies, senior Warren Thomas is in 78th place at 73 (+2). Like Silvers, Thomas went one-under right out of the gate, but followed that with four straight bogeys. The par-5 sixth broke the string, and he birdied the par-4 ninth to head into the back nine at two-over. Birdies on Nos. 11 and 15 brought him back to one-over with three holes to play. His putt for par on No. 18 rimmed out to set him back to two-over.

Junior Patrick Cunning closed his round in the opposite fashion as Thomas, sinking a long putt for birdie to finish at 75 (+4). Cunning erased a rocky start to his round with consecutive birdies on Nos. 3 and 4, but two bogeys had him making the turn at two-over. A double-bogey on the par-5 11th pushed him farther back, as did a bogey on the par-5 13th, before his rounded ended on a good note to move him up to 107th place in the standings.

Sophomore George Bryan IV suffered an atypical round of 77 (+6) to sit in 130th place after a front nine that saw him card six bogeys. A birdie on No. 10 got his back nine off to a better start, and his play evened out through the rest of the round, recording five pars and adding another birdie on the par-4 15th.

No. 1 Georgia withstood Thursday afternoon’s sloppy conditions the best with a round of 265 (-19), eclipsing the 273 (-11) of Augusta State, which got in the clubhouse before the bulk of the weather settled in. SMU is three shots behind ASU in third place. Individually, Georgia’s Hudson Swafford and Augusta State’s Henrik Norlander are tied for the lead at 65 (-6). Four players, including two Georgia Bulldogs, are tied for third.

Play continues on Friday with the Gamecocks teeing off on No. 10 beginning at 7 a.m. South Carolina will again be paired with Georgia and Charlotte in the second round.