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Sept. 8, 2011

Coach McDonald

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team opens its 2011-12 season on Friday at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. The three-day tournament will be held at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.

After playing last season with one of the youngest rosters in program history, South Carolina is ready show how much difference a year of experience can make. The Gamecocks had a disappointing finish to their 2010-11 campaign with a 10th-place showing at the Southeastern Conference Championship, missing out on the NCAA regionals for the first time since 1995. Head coach Bill McDonald said his team is motivated to get back to the level of success the program is accustomed to.

“I certainly have already detected a little bit of an edge amongst the guys to prove that last year was not what we are accustomed to around here, and everybody has been working hard,” said McDonald, who enters his fifth season at the helm of the program. “The team chemistry has been really good.”

South Carolina’s lineup for the weekend features one senior, one junior and three sophomores. Senior Wesley Bryan and sophomore Blaine Woodruff return to lead the way for the Gamecocks this season, while junior Dykes Harbin, sophomore Caulder Moore and sophomore Logan Harrell will join them in this week’s starting lineup.

Bryan has played in every tournament since beginning his Gamecock career and is currently eighth on the career scoring average list with a 73.49 average. Woodruff was the team’s leading scorer a year ago with a 74.11 stroke average. He looks to improve on last year’s tie for 34th finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, where he led the team with rounds of 74-74-74=223 (+7).

“Wesley had an uncharacteristic tough start last year in the fall but came back strong in the spring, and he’s had a good summer,” McDonald said. “Blaine was a rock for us last year as a freshman. I’m really counting on those guys to be strong for us.”

Harbin and Moore, who was second on the team with two top 20 finishes a year ago, each competed in six varsity events last season, while Harrell played in eight tournaments.

This year’s tournament marks the 23rd playing of the Carpet Capital Collegiate, with the Gamecocks having played in 20 of the previous 22 events. South Carolina’s best finish at the tournament was a tie for first in 2007. The Gamecocks finished 12th last season with a score of 902 (+38). Two Gamecocks have claimed medalist honors at the event, as Kyle Thompson (69-69-70=208) and David Seawell (69-68-73=210) won at The Farm in 2000 and 1994, respectively.

The 2011 Carpet Capital Collegiate field will be strong once again, as six teams in the Golf World top 25 will be competing. Five SEC foes will also be competing, including four of the top five finishers at last year’s SEC Championship. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee make up the SEC participants, while rival Clemson is also a part of the 12-team field.

“As always, the field is really strong at the Carpet Capital,” McDonald said. “It’s got a good mix of SEC powers and ACC teams and some other regional teams that are strong as well. We are just really looking forward to getting the season started. We’ve had a very competitive qualifying amongst the team, and I think everybody is just excited to get started.”

The Gamecocks will be paired with Kennesaw State and Middle Tennessee State for the first two rounds. Tee times start at 9 a.m. on Friday on hole No. 10. Live scoring is available for Saturday and Sunday’s rounds at golfstatresults.com.

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