Oct. 14, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team will return to tournament play on Monday in its first-ever appearance at the AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic in Duluth, Ga.
The tournament format will be 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday at the par-72, 6,694-yard Berkeley Hills Country Club.
Coming off a third-place finish at the Rees Jones Invitational, South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald is looking forward to his squad teeing off at a renovated Berkeley Hills.
“Overall (the Rees Jones) was a nice event for us,” McDonald said. “This week is another solid field. Georgia will be there, and plenty of other good regional schools will be there. (Berkeley Hills) is a good golf course. It’s one I actually played quite a bit when I was teaching in Atlanta. From what I understand, they’ve undergone a renovation and have redone the greens. We are looking forward to seeing the golf course for sure.”
After finishing with five golfers in the top 15 at the Rees Jones Invitational, McDonald has decided to keep those five in the lineup for this week. Seniors Dykes Harbin and Dean Hester, sophomores Will Murphy and Caleb Sturgeon and freshman Matt NeSmith will tee of on Monday in Duluth.
Harbin led the Gamecocks with a sixth-place finish at the Rees Jones Invitational, while NeSmith (T-7th), Hester (T-13th), Murphy (T-15th) and Sturgeon (T-15th) all finished in the top 15.
A native of Augusta, Ga., Harbin has taken his leadership role to a whole other level this season. He has been the Gamecocks top finisher in both tournaments (T-14th, sixth) and is leading the team with a 72.83 stroke average. He is currently ranked No. 66 in the Golfstat men’s player rankings.
“With Dykes it all started a couple of years ago,” McDonald said. “You could really see him buy into what we are trying to do with this program. He just continues to get better. He’s a hard worker and is a great kid and is doing well in school. He’s everything you ask for as a golf coach. I’m really proud of him and hope he just continues to improve because we certainly need him.”
The Gamecocks will be competing against 15 teams at Berkeley Hills, including SEC foe Georgia. Chattanooga, Furman, Georgia Southern, host Georgia State, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Mercer, Old Dominion, USC Aiken, Towson, UNC Greensboro, VCU, Winthrop and Wisconsin round out the field.
South Carolina will be paired with Georgia Southern, Furman and Kennesaw State for the first round, which begins with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. on Monday. Live scoring will be available by clicking here.