Sep 5, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team opens its 2013-14 season on Friday at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga.
The 54-hole event runs through Sunday at The Farm Golf Club, which features a par-72, 7,012-yard layout.
The Gamecocks enter the year with high hopes as they return eight golfers from a year ago, including the nucleus of their postseason run. South Carolina posted seven top-three finishes last season, including one tournament win, a runner-up finish at the SEC Championship and a tie for second showing at the NCAA Columbus Regional that led to the program’s first NCAA Championship berth since 2009.
“I am looking forward to the start of a new season this week at the Carpet Capital,” said South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald, who enters his seventh season at the helm of the program. “The Farm is always a good test of golf, and the field is really strong for the 25th consecutive year. We have a good part of our nucleus from last year’s squad returning and quality depth. I am confident that this group of guys can accomplish some special things this year.”
Of the 10 golfers on this year’s roster, six played in six or more tournaments in 2012-13 and combined for 16 top-10 finishes. Junior Caleb Sturgeon will occupy the No. 1 position at The Farm as he will make his 22nd career appearance for the Gamecocks. Sophomores Matt NeSmith and Will Starke and juniors Will Murphy and Blaine Woodruff round out this week’s lineup.
A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon turned in four top-10 finishes last season, including a win at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic. He currently ranks sixth on South Carolina’s career scoring average list with an average of 73.16.
NeSmith, who was named a PING Honorable Mention All-American and the Co-SEC Freshman of the Year, recorded seven top-10 finishes last season, tying for the second most all-time in a single season at South Carolina. He also led the team with a stroke average of 72.64, which ranks second all-time for a freshman in school history.
Starke came on strong last spring and finished the year with two top-10 finishes, including a tie for ninth showing at the NCAA Columbus Regional.
A native of Columbia, S.C., Murphy played in six team events and recorded three top-20 finishes. His stroke average of 74.00 ranked fourth on the team.
Woodruff returns to the lineup for the first time since the spring of 2012 after redshirting last season. He has a career stroke average of 74.72 and has finished in the top 20 on three occasions.
This year marks the 25th playing of the Carpet Capital Collegiate. The Gamecocks are playing at The Farm for the eighth straight year and 23rd overall, with their best finish being a tie for first in 2007. Two South Carolina golfers have medaled at the event, as Kyle Thompson and David Seawell won the tournament in 2000 and 1994, respectively.
The Gamecocks will be challenged this weekend with a field that features six teams ranked in the Golf World/Nike Preseason Top 25. Third-ranked Texas is the highest-ranked team followed by No. 4 Georgia Tech, a semifinalist at last year’s NCAA Championship. No. 11 Georgia, No. 16 Auburn, No. 17 LSU and No. 24 North Florida make up the rest of the ranked contingent. In-state rival Clemson is also in the field. The Gamecocks went 3-1 head-to-head against the Tigers last season. South Carolina will also compete against Chattanooga, Kennesaw State, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
South Carolina will be paired with Tennessee and rival Clemson for Friday’s first round and will begin teeing off at 9 a.m. Live scoring will be available here.