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April 15, 2010

Coach McDonald

SEC Championship Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Live Scoring

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – South Carolina, riding a wave of momentum and strong play, will be looking for its first Southeastern Conference men’s golf title since joining the league in 1992 as the Gamecocks head to the SEC Championship, which runs Friday through Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.

The Gamecocks are coming off a much-needed off week after playing five straight weeks in March and early April, but the momentum remains after a runner-up finish in record-setting fashion at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational and a fourth-place showing at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate.

As with all nine previous tournaments this season, Palmetto State pride is on the line as the Gamecock starting five are all South Carolina natives. Teeing it up this weekend will be seniors George Bryan IV (Chapin), Patrick Rada (Anderson) and Paul Woodbury (Lake City), along with sophomore Wesley Bryan (Chapin) and redshirt freshman Clint Tolleson (Spartanburg).

Three of the five competitors in the Gamecock lineup have appeared in at least one previous SEC Championship, with two making multiple previous appearances. George Bryan IV has played in every tournament since joining the Gamecocks in 2006-07 with three SEC Championship appearances under his belt. He tied for 40th his freshman year before posting a tie for runner-up honors as a sophomore in 2008. Last season, Bryan tied for 27th place.

Patrick Rada will be playing in the event for the third time after tying for 48th in 2008 and posting a tie for 21st place in 2009. Wesley Bryan was the team’s top finisher as a freshman in 2009, earning a tie for 10th place at the Frederica Club. Woodbury and Tolleson will be making their initial appearances in the league tournament.

The Gamecocks come into the weekend as the top-rated team in the Southeastern Conference with a team scoring average of 288.40 through 25 tournament rounds; that translates to an individual average of 72.10. The team’s overall record against opponents for the year is 95-24-1, including a 16-12 mark in competition against other SEC schools.

Bryan IV leads the way with a 72.04 scoring average for the season, which ranks seventh in the SEC and 59th in the nation, according to Golfweek. The younger Bryan is ninth in the league with a 72.36 average, 65th in the nation. Woodbury is just one spot out of the top 10, ranking 11th in the league and 82nd nationally.

Last season, the Gamecocks tied for fourth at the SEC Championship with rounds of 293-286-293=872 (+8). Georgia was the team champion at 849 (-15), and Florida’s Billy Horschel took medalist honors at 206 (-10). Wesley Bryan was South Carolina’s top finisher, tying for 10th place at 215 (-1); Mark Silvers III was one stroke back, tied for 12th place at even par.

The Gamecocks have come quite close to winning an SEC golf championship in their 19 years in the league, posting a pair of runner-up finishes in 1998 (lost by one stroke) and 2008, and a third-place showing in 1999. But with the Gamecocks holding one of two top-10 spots among league teams – ninth in the nation, according to Golfweek – the odds may be in Carolina’s favor this weekend. South Carolina has had one individual champion as Eric Ecker was the medalist in the 1998 event in Athens, Ga., shooting 70-66=136 in the rain-shortened event. George Bryan IV tied for runner-up honors in 2008, as did Kyle Thompson in 1999.

Tee times for Friday morning will be released later Thursday afternoon on, where live scoring is also available. Fans can receive periodic updates via Twitter by following @GamecockMGolf or @SECSportsUpdate.