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Sept. 21, 2013

Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team is set to host the sixth annual Rees Jones Invitational at Haig Point Club in Daufuskie Island, S.C.

The 54-hole tournament, which has traditionally been a two-day event, will run Sunday through Tuesday on the par-72, 7,380-yard Rees Jones Signature Course.

The Gamecocks, who are coming off a 10th-place finish at the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate, will look to continue their streak of success at Haig Point this week. South Carolina has played in the event four times and has recorded two tournament wins, a second-place finish and a third-place finish.

After going through a competitive qualifying, South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald will have the same lineup he had for the Carpet Capital Collegiate. However, sophomore Will Starke has earned the No. 1 spot this week after turning in a tie for fifth finish to open the season, the second top-five finish of his career. Junior Caleb Sturgeon will occupy the No. 2 position, followed by sophomore Matt NeSmith and juniors Will Murphy and Blaine Woodruff. Freshman Ben Dietrich will get his first collegiate playing experience as he is set to compete as an individual.

South Carolina will have experience on its side as four of the Gamecocks in the lineup have played at Haig Point in at least one of the last two Rees Jones Invitationals. Sturgeon has played the last two years, finishing tied for 33rd in 2011 and tied for 15th last season. NeSmith and Murphy also played in last year’s tournament, finishing tied for seventh and tied for 15th, respectively. Woodruff played two years ago and posted a tie for 26th finish.

As a team, South Carolina holds the tournament record for low 18-hole score (280) and low 54-hole score (869), with both coming in 2009 when it won its second Rees Jones Invitational title. The Gamecocks also won the title in 2008.

This year’s field will be another solid test for the Gamecocks. Liberty is back to defend its title. The Flames won last year’s trophy with a total of 870, the second-lowest total in tournament history. Kennesaw State, a two-time champion, is also back and will be joined by Charleston Southern, Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee State, South Florida, Troy, UNC Wilmington and Winthrop.

The course will prove to be a huge challenge for the teams once again, as the Rees Jones Signature Course is one of the most difficult golf courses the golfers will see all year. It has consistently made Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and Golf Magazine’s Top 100 in the World list.

The tournament will get underway on Sunday with teams teeing off at 8:30 a.m. off the first and 10th tees. South Carolina will be paired with South Florida and Middle Tennessee State and will tee off hole No. 1 beginning at 9:40. Live scoring will be available all three days at Daily tickets are $10 without hospitality or $25 for an all-inclusive ticket that includes ferry transportation and food.