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March 10, 2013

Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team will go for its fourth straight top-three finish when it opens play on Monday in the 16th annual Palmetto Intercollegiate.

The Gamecocks, who have finished first, third and second in their last three events, will play 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday at the historic Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C.

South Carolina is playing some of its best golf of the season and is coming off a second-place finish at the USF Invitational. Four Gamecocks finished in the top 20 at the event led by senior Dykes Harbin (T-2nd) and freshman Matt NeSmith (T-10th), who earned SEC Golfer of the Week and SEC Freshman Golfer of the Week honors, respectively.

History is on the Gamecocks’ side heading into the week, as Carolina has placed in the top three in three all-time appearances at the Palmetto Intercollegiate. The Gamecocks placed third last season after being tied for the 36-hole lead and claimed third in 2003 and first in 2004. Carolina has also had a top-five finisher each year, including medalist Erik Johansen in 2004 and sophomore Caleb Sturgeon (fourth) last season.

The Gamecocks will look to keep their momentum going with the same exact lineup from a week ago, as Harbin, NeSmith, Sturgeon, sophomore Will Murphy and junior Caulder Moore are set to compete in Aiken.

A native of Augusta, Ga., Harbin has been South Carolina’s unquestioned leader, producing a team-high five top-20 finishes, including his first career win at the Collegiate Classic. Harbin’s season average of 72.17 ranks seventh in the conference and is currently eighth all-time on the South Carolina single-season scoring average list. NeSmith, Sturgeon and Murphy have been stellar in the lineup as well, combining for 11 top-20 finishes.

This year’s Palmetto Intercollegiate field is made up of 18 teams, including four ranked in the Golfstat Top 50. No. 22 Clemson, No. 34 Liberty and No. 50 North Carolina State join the 35th-ranked Gamecocks to highlight the field. Tournament host USC Aiken enters the week as the seventh-ranked team in Division II. Akron, Augusta State, Elon, Francis Marion, Furman, Georgia State, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn, Presbyterian, Virginia, Western Carolina and Wofford round out the field. South Carolina has competed against eight teams in the field this season and has a 6-4 head-to-head record against those programs.

The teams will be playing on the fourth-oldest course in the country. The Palmetto Golf Club, which was founded in 1892, will feature a par-70, 6,617-yard setup for the tournament.

First-round play is scheduled to begin on Monday with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Live scoring will not be available for the tournament.