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Sept. 27, 2013

Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team is set to open its third tournament of the fall on Sunday at the Badger Invitational in Madison, Wis.

The 54-hole event runs through Tuesday at the par-72, 7,259-yard University Ridge Golf Course.

The Gamecocks built some momentum earlier this week as they came up just short of winning the Rees Jones Invitational, finishing in a tie for second just two strokes back of the lead. South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald was pleased with what he saw from his squad at Haig Point and will look for it to get off to a strong start on Sunday.

“We are really looking forward to getting up to Madison and playing in the Badger Invitational,” McDonald said. “Former Gamecock assistant coach Mike Burcin, one of my best friends, is the head coach there now, and it’s an event he’s trying to start up. It’s great to be a part of that. We’ve heard that the golf course is incredible and in really good shape. It will be a good challenge for our guys and good for them to experience a northern style golf course. Our guys should be ready to redeem themselves after having a great chance at winning the Rees Jones just a few days ago.”

The Gamecocks’ lineup will be different for the first time this season with some shakeup at the No. 5 position. Freshman Ben Dietrich earned his first start after a solid collegiate debut as an individual at the Rees Jones Invitational. The Bluffton, S.C., native finished tied for 33rd with a total of 229 (+13), including a first-round 73 (+1).

After earning his third career top-five finish with a tie for fourth showing at the Rees Jones, sophomore Matt NeSmith will occupy the No. 1 position for the Gamecocks in Madison. NeSmith, who leads the team with a stroke average of 73.83, has finished in the top 10 in five of the last six regular-season events dating back to last spring.

Junior Will Murphy, who is coming off a tie for sixth finish at the Rees Jones, will be the Gamecocks’ No. 2, while junior Caleb Sturgeon will be in the third slot after finishing tied for 14th at Haig Point, the 11th top-20 finish of his career. Sophomore Will Starke, who ranks second on the team with a 74.17 stroke average, rounds out the lineup.

The Gamecocks will compete against 13 teams in Madison, including three ranked in the Golfstat Top 50. USC Upstate enters the week at No. 32 after winning its first two tournaments of the season, the Springhill Suites Intercollegiate and Rutgers Invitational. No. 35 Wofford and No. 50 Austin Peay round out the ranked contingent and will be joined by the host Badgers, Charleston Southern, Illinois State, Kansas, Marquette, Northern Illinois, Northern Kentucky, Rutgers, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Xavier.

South Carolina is making its first-ever appearance at the Badger Invitational. Wisconsin hasn’t hosted the event since 2003. It was the Badger’s annual tournament from 2000-2003.

First-round tee times will begin on Sunday at 9 a.m. Tee times will begin at the same time on Monday, and the final round will begin with a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Live scoring will not be available for this tournament, but results will be posted after each round on