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Aug. 19, 2011

Blaine Woodruff

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team doesn’t open its 2011-12 season until Sept. 9, but one Gamecock will be gaining experience at a prestigious event in less than a week.

Sophomore Blaine Woodruff is set to compete in the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be held Aug. 22-28 at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wis. The field will compete in two stroke-play rounds to qualify for the match play portion of the event.

Woodruff, who qualified by shooting rounds of 68 (-3) and 72 (+1) at a sectional at Coldstream Country Club on Aug. 1 in Cincinnati, is anxious to tee off.

“I’m really ready. This has always been a goal of mine, and it feels good to accomplish it,” Woodruff said. “I’m ready to get after it.”

Woodruff and the rest of the U.S. Amateur field will be challenged with a difficult setup at Erin Hills. The par 72 course plays at 7,760 yards, which makes it the longest course in U.S. Amateur history. Blue Mound Golf and Country Club, the second stroke play course, is a par 70 and will play at 6,622 yards.

“I think it sets up well,” Woodruff said. “I’m not really a bomber but I feel like I hit it pretty far. I think that will narrow the playing field to the best players, and whoever plays the best is definitely going to come out on top.”

The Acworth, Ga., native is one of 312 golfers who will compete for this year’s title, including defending champion and Oklahoma State All-American Peter Uihlein. The participants could be playing in front of one of the largest galleries in U.S. Amateur history with free admission to the event for the first time since 1997.

Woodruff had a stellar freshman campaign for the Gamecocks last season as he played in all 10 events and led the team with a 74.11 stroke average. As for his sophomore season, Woodruff has high expectations for himself.

“I’ve gotten a lot better this summer,” he said. “I learned a lot from my experiences last year as a freshman. I was able to play in every event last year. I’m just using those experiences to move on towards the future.”

As a team, the Gamecocks were up and down in 2010-11, but Woodruff believes the pieces are in place to make significant improvements this season.

“We can’t get much worse than we did last year,” Woodruff said. “(My teammates) went through a lot of the experiences I went through. I think we learned a lot as a team and kind of came together. We are ready for this year for sure.”

“If we can just come together as a team, I think we can definitely give it a run for a SEC championship and definitely regionals and maybe nationals.”

After wrapping up play at the U.S. Amateur, Woodruff and the Gamecocks will open their fall schedule on Sept. 9 in the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga.

Pairings, tee times and full coverage of the U.S. Amateur can be found at