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Sept. 13, 2011

HANAHAN, S.C. — South Carolina had three golfers post scores under par on Tuesday in the final round of the Cougar Classic on its way to setting the record for the lowest round in school history with a 279 (-9) at Yeamans Hall Club. The Gamecocks finished the tournament with a three-round total of 869 (+5) to claim 10th place in the 22-team field.

South Carolina’s score of 279 broke the previous school record by three strokes, which was set in the second round of the 2002 Southeastern Conference Championship. It also tied for the second lowest round in Cougar Classic history. The Gamecocks’ tournament total was the fourth best 54-hole total in program history.

“It’s neat to have everybody contribute and get the low numbers going,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “The group we had out there this week was all people who worked very hard and have a lot of heart and want to succeed. They put a lot of extra time in what they do, and it was neat to see their work pay off.

“We stumbled out to a slow start (on Sunday), but I was proud of the way they responded and came back. They know that they are better than the way they started. I think the way they fought back makes them realize they can compete with any team out there.”

Sophomore Katie Rose Higgins posted South Carolina’s lowest score of the round with a career-best 67 (-5), tying Burnett and three former Gamecocks for the third lowest round in school history. Higgins’ three-round total of 221 (+5) left her in a tie for 44th. She recorded par on her first three holes of the day and then caught fire with birdies on six of her next seven holes, including four straight on holes 15-18. After five consecutive pars, Higgins carded her seventh birdie of the day at No. 6 but she faltered with bogeys on her final two holes to finish at 5-under.

“She had it going,” Harris said of Higgins. “She had that stretch where she made four birdies in a row and then she made a great up and down on the fifth hole for par. I’m proud of her. She kept firing it in there and didn’t back down. She kept trying to take it lower.”

After posting a career-low 69 in the second round, South Carolina junior Meredith Swanson was at it again on Tuesday. Swanson fired the ninth-best round in Gamecock history with a 4-under 68. She finished the tournament in a tie for 12th with a three-day score of 214 (-2), which is tied for the 10th best 54-hole total in school history.

Swanson, who started her day on hole No. 8, recorded her first of five birdies on the day at the ninth. She fell to 1-over after a double bogey at No. 11, but that turned out to be her only big slip up of the day. The Roanoke, Va., native made a birdie at the 14th to move back to even and then recorded her first eagle of the tournament at No. 15. After a bogey at the first, Swanson tallied birdies on the next three holes and pars on her final three to wrap up the tournament at 2-under.

“(Swanson) really stepped up,” Harris said. “She’s done phenomenal work over the summer in the gym getting stronger and on the driving range and around the greens. I couldn’t be happier for her to shoot those numbers.”

Senior Katie Burnett finished in the top 10 for the eighth time in her career as her final-round 74 (+2) moved her into a tie for ninth with a three-day total of 213 (-3). Burnett’s 54-hole score is tied for the eighth best in program history. After starting the round on hole No. 7, Burnett birdied two of her first four holes, but a double bogey at the 12th and bogeys at the 13th and 16th moved her to 2-over on the day. She fought back to 1-over on three occasions, including with a birdie at No. 5, but she bogeyed her the sixth to finish at 2-over.

South Carolina’s third round under par came from junior Amanda Strang, who carded a 2-under 70 for her lowest round of the tournament. Strang recorded five birdies, 10 pars and three bogeys on the day to wrap up the tournament in a tie for 44th with a three-round score of 221 (+5).

Sophomore Samantha Swinehart turned in her best round of the event with a 74 (+2). After making three birdies in the first two rounds combined, Swinehart recorded three in the third round to go along with five bogeys and 10 pars.

LSU claimed the Cougar Classic title by shooting a tournament-record 277 (-11) on Tuesday. The Tigers finished the tournament with a score of 848 (-16), which is also a tournament record. North Carolina finished second at 853 (-11), while Florida took third with an 856 (-8).

LSU’s Austin Ernst won medalist honors after carding a final-round 67 (-5) to finish with a tournament-record 203 (-13). Tennessee’s Erica Popson shot a 72 (E) to finish runner-up at 207 (-9).

The Gamecocks return to action on Oct. 7 in the Tar Heel Invitational at the Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C.

T9. Katie Burnett 73-66-74=213 (-3)
T12. Meredith Swanson 77-69-68=214 (-2)
T44. Amanda Strang 78-73-70=221 (+5)
T44. Katie Rose Higgins 79-75-67=221 (+5)
T92. Samantha Swinehart 79-82-74=235 (+19)

1. LSU – 848 (-16)
2. North Carolina – 853 (-11)
3. Florida – 856 (-8)
T4. North Carolina State – 864 (E)
T4. Georgia – 864 (E)
6. Vanderbilt – 865 (+1)
T7. Tennessee – 867 (+3)
T7. Alabama – 867 (+3)
T7. Duke – 867 (+3)
10. South Carolina – 869 (+5)
11. Mississippi – 876 (+12)
12. Miami – 897 (+33)
13. Furman – 898 (+34)
14. Maryland – 901 (+37)
15. Wake Forest – 904 (+40)
16. College of Charleston – 906 (+42)
T17. Minnesota – 911 (+47)
T17. Penn State – 911 (+47)
19. UNCG – 915 (+51)
20. Wisconsin – 916 (+52)
21. Richmond – 943 (+79)
22. Charleston Southern – 959 (+95)