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Oct. 28, 2012

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team put together its most complete round of the season on Sunday as it fired an opening-round 282 (-2) to take the lead in the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic at Turtle Point Golf Club.

South Carolina, the only team under par on the day, holds a seven-shot lead over Winthrop (289) heading into Monday’s second round. The score of 282 is the Gamecocks’ lowest since shooting a 279 in the second round of the 2010 Mason Rudolph Championship.

“I am really proud of today’s round and how patient the team was from start to finish,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “It was by far the best we have looked in a while, and we are looking forward to the next two days.”

The Gamecocks also have three golfers in the hunt for medalist honors with all three in the top five. Sophomore Caleb Sturgeon is tied for the tournament lead with Utah Valley’s Mason Casper after posting a season-low 68 (-3). Freshman Matt NeSmith is just one stroke back of his teammate in third place as he carded a career-low 69 (-2). In his first collegiate appearance, freshman Will Starke turned in an impressive performance, shooting a 1-under 70 to move into a tie for fourth place.

Sturgeon played some of the best golf of his young career on Sunday as he made it through the round without a blemish on his scorecard. A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon made eight pars and birdied the par-4 sixth on the front side. He then recorded seven pars and sank back-to-back birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes to close out his round in strong fashion.

NeSmith, who already has two top-20 finishes this season, was even at the turn after carding seven pars, one birdie and a bogey. He had a rough start on the back nine with a bogey on the 10th hole. However, the North Augusta, S.C., native caught fire in the middle of the back side with three straight birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15, as he wrapped up the day at 2-under par.

Starke made the turn with a 36 (+1) that included six pars, two bogeys and a birdie. He was flawless on the back nine, making two birdies and seven pars to get to 1-under on the day.

Gamecock senior Dykes Harbin and junior Caulder Moore each shot a 4-over 75 and are in a tie for 46th.

College of Charleston is eight strokes back of South Carolina in third place with a total of 290 (+6), followed by Radford (292) and Western Kentucky (295).

The Gamecocks will be paired with Charleston Southern and Wisconsin for the second round and will tee off hole No. 1 beginning at 10 a.m. Live scoring will be available by clicking here.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTST1. Caleb Sturgeon (3)     68 (-3)3. Matt NeSmith (2)  69 (-2)T4. Will Starke (5)   70 (-1)T46. Dykes Harbin (1)    75 (+4)T46. Caulder Moore (4)  75 (+4)
TEAM STANDINGS1. South Carolina 282 (-2)2. Winthrop 289 (+5)3. College of Charleston 290 (+6)4. Radford 292 (+8)5. Western Kentucky U. 295 (+11)6. Wisconsin 296 (+12)7. Marquette 297 (+13)8. Campbell 298 (+14)T9. Presbyterian College 299 (+15)T9. Connecticut 299 (+15)T11. Charleston Southern 300 (+16)T11. High Point 300 (+16)T11. Boise State 300 (+16)T11. Stetson 300 (+16)T15. Utah Valley 302 (+18)T15. William & Mary 302 (+18)T15. USC Upstate 302 (+18)18. Bradley University 303 (+19)T19. Jacksonville St. 305 (+21)T19. Francis Marion 305 (+21)T19. Towson 305 (+21)22. Loyola Univ-Maryland 306 (+22)23. St. John's 308 (+24)24. George Washington U. 311 (+27)25. Mount St. Mary's 315 (+31)26. Butler 317 (+33)