Oct. 27, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team will wrap up its fall schedule as it begins play at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic on Sunday in Kiawah Island, S.C.
The 54-hole event runs through Tuesday at the par-71, 7,011-yard layout at Turtle Point Golf Club. South Carolina is coming off a tie for seventh showing at AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic, and Gamecock associate head coach Don Hill said the team is looking to close out the fall with its best effort of the season.
“With the 500 rule that we have in men’s golf, wins are important,” Hill said. “With a large field like this, I think we are very capable of playing well this week. If we play well, we will earn a lot of wins that will help us in the spring. Playing well does a lot of things for us. This is our final tournament of the fall, and we want to have good vibes going into the offseason. You have about a three-moth period there where there’s not a lot of golf. We want to take those good vibes with us into the spring.”
The Gamecocks will be playing with their fourth different lineup of the season at Turtle Point. Senior Dykes Harbin, sophomore Caleb Sturgeon and freshman Matt NeSmith remain in the lineup for the fourth consecutive tournament. Junior Caulder Moore will be making his second appearance of the season, and freshman Will Starke is set to make his collegiate debut.
Harbin continues to play the best golf of his career as he is coming off his first collegiate victory at the AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic. A native of Augusta, Ga., Harbin posted rounds of 66-72-72=210 (-3) to win the tournament and lead the Gamecocks to a tie for seventh finish. He is currently ranked No. 34 in the Golfstat Player Rankings and leads the team with a stroke average of 71.89.
Through his first three collegiate tournaments, NeSmith boasts a scoring average of 75.00 and has recorded two top-20 finishes, including a tie for seventh showing at the Rees Jones Invitational. Sturgeon enters the event with a scoring average of 75.67, while Moore has a stroke average of 74.67 after playing in the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate.
Starke, a native of Chapin, S.C., is set to make is first appearance after coming to Columbia as a highly ranked junior golfer by the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
“I think Will struggled a little with the transition to college golf but the last couple of weeks he’s really shown signs of improvement,” Hill said. “His ball striking and putting have improved. He’s starting to get a little notice from the older guys. That added confidence that he’s good enough to play with these guys, I think that will bode well for him and for us this week.”
The Gamecocks will be going up against one of the largest fields in collegiate golf this season, as 26 teams will tee off on Sunday. A total of 15 conferences will be represented at the tournament, with South Carolina being the lone SEC program. The Palmetto State will be well represented with seven teams competing, including host Charleston Southern, College of Charleston, Francis Marion, Presbyterian, USC Upstate and Winthrop.
South Carolina has played in three previous regular season events hosted by Charleston Southern at Turtle Point. The Gamecocks finished seventh (2010), tied for 13th (2002) and tied for 11th (2003) in those events. During its Metro Conference years, South Carolina played in four Metro Conference Championships at Turtle Point and won the 1991 championship.
First-round play gets underway at 7:30 a.m. The Gamecocks will be paired with Charleston Southern and Wisconsin and will tee off hole No. 1 beginning at 10:50. Live scoring will be available by clicking here.