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Nov. 1, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — After going a month between tournaments, the South Carolina men’s golf team is set to wrap up its fall schedule this week at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic.

The 54-hole event will run Sunday through Tuesday at the par-72, 7,100-yard Turtle Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, S.C.

The Gamecocks will be looking to finish one of the program’s best fall seasons in recent history on a strong note. After opening the season with a 10th-place finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, South Carolina began playing some impressive golf and finished tied for second at the Rees Jones Invitational and won the Badger Invitational by 24 strokes last month.

“We finished real strong a few weeks ago in Wisconsin and actually played really well the week before at the Rees Jones,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “The Badger Invitational was a really good tournament for us. It was one of the best we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

McDonald is sticking with the same lineup that brought home the Badger Invitational title this week. Junior Caleb Sturgeon will occupy the No. 1 position after winning medalist honors at the Badger Invitational and will be joined by sophomore Matt NeSmith, who has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven regular-season tournaments dating back to last year, sophomore Will Starke, junior Will Murphy and freshman Ben Dietrich. Senior Alan King will be making his Gamecock debut as an individual.

The Gamecocks have played in four previous regular-season tournaments hosted by Charleston Southern at Turtle Point, including last year’s Kiawah Classic. The Gamecocks won their first tournament title since 2009 at last year’s event as they cruised to a 20-stroke victory, while Sturgeon claimed his first career tournament title to lead the way, finishing with a total of 210 (-3). Starke (2nd), NeSmith (T-6th) and Dykes Harbin (17th) all finished in the top 20 for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks finished seventh (2010), tied for 13th (2002) and tied for 11th (2003) in their other three appearances at Turtle Point. South Carolina also played in four Metro Conference Championships at Turtle Point, winning the 1991 championship.

Sturgeon enters the week with the team’s best scoring average (72.44) after winning the Badger Invitational title. A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon will look to become the first Gamecock to claim medalist honors in consecutive events since Carl Paulson won the PING Intercollegiate and the Billy Hitchcock Intercollegiate back-to-back in 1993. As a team the Gamecocks will attempt to win consecutive events for the first time since winning the Turtle Bay Intercollegiate and the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship back-to-back during the 2003-04 season.

South Carolina will be competing against its largest field of the fall, with a total of 18 teams slated to tee off on Sunday. The Gamecocks are the lone team ranked in the Golfstat Top 50 at No. 33, but Missouri (53), Winthrop (57) and Minnesota (59) sit just outside the top 50. South Carolina will also compete against host Charleston Southern, Campbell, Creighton, Elon, George Washington, Jacksonville State, Marquette, Presbyterian, Radford, Richmond, Towson, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin and USC Upstate.

The teams will tee off on the first and 10th tees on Sunday and Monday beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday’s final round will feature a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring will be available HERE.