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March 3, 2013

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DADE CITY, Fla. — With senior Dykes Harbin firing a 4-under 68 to lead the way, the South Carolina men’s golf team posted a first-round 287 (-1) to tie for the lead at the USF Invitational on Sunday afternoon.

The Gamecocks, who are tied with North Carolina State, are in contention for their second tournament title of the season. Virginia and Mercer are close behind in a tie for third after shooting a 289 (+1).

Individually, Harbin is in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with North Carolina State’s Albin Choi and Kentucky’s Stephen Powers. He is in position to compete for his second medalist honor of the year after carding one of his best rounds of the season, which included two eagles, three birdies, three bogeys and 10 pars. The par-5 holes were key in his success on Sunday as he played them at 4-under. As a team the Gamecocks played the par 5s at 10-under.

“It was a solid round by the guys today in some pretty tough conditions,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “The greens are really quick, and it was breezy as well. Dykes really played well, and his two eagles were exciting to watch.”

A native of Augusta, Ga., Harbin’s day couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start as he made par on the first and then eagled the 549-yard, par-5 second to get into red numbers early. After a bogey on the fifth hole, he played the final four holes of the front nine at 1-under to make the turn with a 34 (-2). Harbin began the back side with a birdie and then eagled the 11th to move to 5-under. He gave two shots back in the next four holes before recording a birdie on the 16th and par on the final two holes to finish the round at 4-under.

Coming off a tie for eighth finish at the Bayou City Collegiate Championships, sophomores Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy continued their stellar play on Sunday with rounds of 72 (E) and 73 (+1), respectively.

Sturgeon, who is in a tie for 11th, was at 2-under through 13 holes. However, he bogeyed two out of his final five holes fall back to even par. On the afternoon Sturgeon recorded six birdies, six bogeys and 12 pars.

Murphy was at 1-under heading to the 18th tee box but he dropped back to 1-over with a double bogey on the final hole to move into a tie for 16th. He concluded his round with four birdies, three bogeys, a double bogey and 10 pars on the scorecard.

Freshman Matt NeSmith is just outside the top 20 in a tie for 22nd after shooting a 2-over 74. NeSmith was at 4-over after the front side but he played the back nine at 2-under, including an eagle on the 562-yard, par-5 13th, to get back in the mix. Rounding out the lineup for the Gamecocks, junior Caulder Moore carded a 77 (+5) and is tied for 55th.

Second-round play is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Monday. Live scoring will be available here.


T1. Dykes Harbin (1) 68 (-4) T11. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 72 (E) T16. Will Murphy (4) 73 (+1) T22. Matt NeSmith (3) 74 (+2) T55. Caulder Moore (5) 77 (+5)

TEAM STANDINGS T1. South Carolina 287 (-1) T1. North Carolina State 287 (-1) T3. Virginia 289 (+1) T3. Mercer 289 (+1) 5. Florida State 293 (+5) 6. Kentucky 295 (+7) T7. South Florida 296 (+8) T7. Louisville 296 (+8) T9. Kennesaw State 300 (+12) T9. Eastern Michigan 300 (+12) T9. Rice 300 (+12) T12. Middle Tennessee St. 304 (+16) T12. Troy 304 (+16) 14. Cincinnati 306 (+18) 15. Marquette 308 (+20) 16. Wisconsin 310 (+22) 17. DePaul 312 (+24)