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Oct. 1, 2013

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VERONA, Wis. — The South Carolina men’s golf team posted a final-round 291 (+3) to cruise to a 24-stroke victory at the Badger Invitational on Tuesday at University Ridge Golf Course.

The Gamecocks led wire-to-wire and wrapped up the week with a 54-hole total of 856 (-8) to pull away from the field for the win. Junior Caleb Sturgeon also captured medalist honors for the second time in his career after firing a 3-under 69 in the final round. He posted a total of 206 (-10) to become the 11th golfer in school history to win multiple tournament titles.

“It was a good win for our program, and I’m really happy for Caleb,” said South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald, who has now led the Gamecocks to seven tournament titles as a head coach. “He played some incredible golf this week and so did Matt (NeSmith). The golf course really played tough the past two days, and I thought we did an outstanding job overall of staying patient and being aggressive in the right spots.”

A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon now has four career top-five finishes, just one shy of breaking into the top-10 in school history.

Sturgeon’s closest competitor was also wearing Garnet and Black, as NeSmith carded a 73 (+1) to finish runner-up with a total of 212 (-4). NeSmith also has four top-five finishes for his career and has placed in the top 10 in six of the last seven regular-season tournaments dating back to last spring.

Sophomore Will Starke recorded his fourth career top-20 finish as he shot a final-round 72 (E) to tie for 18th with a total of 222 (+6), while junior Will Murphy finished just outside the top 20 in a tie for 25th with a total of 224 (+8) after shooting an 81 (+9) on Tuesday.

Rounding out the lineup, freshman Ben Dietrich turned in a 77 (+5) to tie for 44th with a total of 228 (+12).

Kansas finished runner-up with a total of 880 (+16), followed by Illinois State (883), USC Upstate (+22) and Austin Peay (+27).

The Gamecocks will have more than a month to prepare for their next tournament as they will return to action on Nov. 3-5 at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic. The 54-hole event will be held at Turtle Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, S.C. South Carolina is the defending tournament champion after winning the tournament by 20 strokes last season. Sturgeon is also the defending individual champion.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS1. Caleb Sturgeon 65-72-69=206 (-10)2. Matt NeSmith     72-67-73=212 (-4)T18. Will Starke 77-73-72=222 (+6)T25. Will Murphy 72-71-81=224 (+8)T44. Ben Dietrich   73-78-77=228 (+12)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS1. South Carolina 282-283-291=856 (-8)2. Kansas 290-294-296=880 (+16)3. Illinois State 287-300-296=883 (+19)4. USC Upstate 286-300-300=886 (+22)5. Austin Peay 290-293-308=891 (+27)6. Wofford 292-295-304=892 (+28)7. Rutgers 298-295-300=893 (+29)8. Missouri-Kansas City 287-297-310=894 (+30)T9. Xavier 287-303-309=899 (+35)T9. Charleston Southern 292-300-307=899 (+35)11. Wisconsin 295-307-290=900 (+36)12. Marquette 291-303-307=901 (+37)13. Northern Illinois 302-316-305=923 (+59)14. Northern Kentucky 310-311-303=924 (+60)