Oct. 2, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team will compete for the second straight week as it hosts the Rees Jones Invitational, which begins Monday at the Haig Point Club on Daufuskie Island.
The 13-team field will play 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday on Haig Point’s Rees Jones Signature Course. The Gamecocks look to improve on their 11th-place finish at last week’s Mason Rudolph Championship.
“It was one of those weeks where I felt like we were really close to playing well at times,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said of last week’s performance. “We are going to mix up our lineup for the Rees Jones. It will be our third different lineup in three events. We are going to see if we can find a spark to play a little bit better.”
McDonald plans to send out his youngest lineup of the season on Monday, with juniors Dykes Harbin and Dean Hester, sophomore Blaine Woodruff and freshmen Sean Kelly and Caleb Sturgeon teeing it up at Haig Point. Hester and Sturgeon are making their first starts of the season, while junior Clint Tolleson is slated to play as an individual.
Harbin has been the most consistent Gamecock through two events, recording just one round above 73. His stroke average of 72.83 leads the team among players who have competed in both tournaments.
Kelly had a stellar debut at the Mason Rudolph Championship with a team best tie for 31st finish. He shot rounds of 75-73-70=218 (+5), making McDonald’s decision to keep the talented newcomer in the lineup an easy one.
“Sean is mature beyond his years,” McDonald said. “I walked with him his last two rounds (at the Mason Rudolph Championship). He’s a great influence on the team and an extremely hard worker. He’s exactly what I was looking for when I recruited him.”
The Gamecocks hope to continue the success they have had at Haig Point as they won the Rees Jones Invitational in 2008 and 2009. South Carolina holds the tournament records for low 18-hole score for a team (280) and individual (Paul Woodbury, 68) and low 54-hole score for a team (869) and individual (George Bryan IV/Paul Woodbury, 214).
This year marks the fourth year of the Rees Jones Invitational, and the tournament field is strong once again, featuring defending conference champions UNC Wilmington (Colonia Athletic Association), Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun) and Liberty University (Big South). Kennesaw State defeated Liberty in a playoff to win last year at Haig Point. Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Georgia State, Iowa State, Jacksonville, Michigan State, South Florida, Wake Forest and Winthrop round out the field.
The Rees Jones Signature Course will provide the field with a challenging setup. The par-72 course, which plays at 7,380 yards, debuted at No. 28 in the country by Golf Digest and No. 68 in the world by Golf Magazine when it first opened 22 years ago. A recent $5.5 million renovation earned the course the third-best remodel from Golf Digest in 2007.
“It might be one of the best golf courses in the South,” McDonald said. “It’s one of the strongest tests that we will see in college golf.”
First-round play begins Monday at 8 a.m. Updates after the front nine and the completion of the round will be available at gamecocksonline.com.
All three days are open to area golf fans, and Haig Point is offering complimentary ferry travel and tournament admittance.
Directions to Haig Point Ferry
SAVANNAH AIRPORT TO EMBARKATION / WELCOME CENTER Leaving the airport, follow signs to I-95 North. Continue on I-95 North to EXIT 8 and follow signs to Hilton Head Island (Highway 278). It is approximately 30 miles to the Hilton Head Island Bridge from the airport.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND BRIDGE (HWY 278) TO EMBARKATION / WELCOME CENTER
Once on Hilton Head Island – William Hilton Parkway, (Highway 278), stay to your left and take the Cross Island Parkway, which is $1 toll. After the toll booth you will be on Palmetto Bay Road. Stay to your left and make the first left at the light (Arrow Road), make an immediate left on Helmsman Way. You will see the sign for the Haig Point Embarkation / Welcome center. 3/10 of a mile, make the next right following the Haig Point sign. Go around Haig Point Circle and follow the sign to either the Baggage Drop if you have luggage, or park in the lot.