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Nov. 4, 2013

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team is in solid position to win its second-straight tournament after posting a 2-under 286 in the second round of the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic at Turtle Point Golf Club on Monday.

The Gamecocks, who are the defending tournament champion, hold a 19-stroke lead over Marquette heading into Tuesday’s final round. The Golden Eagles are in second with a total of 588 (+12).

If South Carolina holds on to win the event, it would be the first time the program has won consecutive events since winning the Turtle Bay Intercollegiate and the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship back-to-back during the 2003-04 season. The Gamecocks entered this week coming off a win at the Badger Invitational last month.

“We played another solid round today in difficult conditions,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “To have three scores under par was really strong, and I’m very proud of Matt NeSmith for bouncing back like he did after a tough day Sunday. Caleb Sturgeon finished strong, and Will Starke is playing extremely well. Overall it has been a great team effort thus far.”

South Carolina will head into the final round with all five golfers in the top 20. Continuing his solid play from Sunday, Starke carded a 2-under 70 to wrap up the day in second place with a total of 139 (-5). Starke, who finished runner-up at Turtle Point a year ago, is just two strokes back of Marquette’s Nick Nelson, who sits atop the leaderboard with a total of 137 (-7) after firing a 67 (-5) on Monday. A native of Chapin, S.C., Starke recorded two birdies and a bogey on each nine to remain in contention for his first collegiate tournament title.

NeSmith made the biggest move up the leaderboard for the Gamecocks after shooting a 3-under 69, climbing 28 spots into a tie for sixth with a total of 144 (E). NeSmith, who has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven regular-season tournaments dating back to last year, bogeyed his first hole of the day but bounced back to play the rest of the front nine at 3-under. After bogeying the par-5 sixth, he registered birdies on the fifth and eighth holes down the stretch to get into the clubhouse at 3-under on the afternoon.

A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon is in position to earn his ninth career top-10 finish after turning in a 71 (-1) to move 11 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for sixth with a total of 144 (E). Sturgeon, the defending tournament champion, played his first seven holes at 1-under before bogeying his final two holes to make the turn at 1-over. However, he was near flawless on his back nine as he carded three birdies and only one bogey the rest of the way.

Freshman Ben Dietrich and junior Will Murphy each shot a 4-over 76 on Monday. Dietrich heads into the final round in a tie for 13th with a total of 146 (+2), while Murphy is tied for 16th with a total of 147 (+3). Senior Alan King, who is playing as an individual, turned in a 75 (+3) to move into a tie for 39th with a total of 152 (+8).

Presbyterian is in third place with a total of 589 (+13), followed by Missouri (592) and Winthrop (593).

The Gamecocks will be paired with Marquette and Presbyterian for the final round on Tuesday and will begin teeing off at 9 a.m. off the first tee. Live scoring will be available HERE.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS2. Will Starke (3)   69-70=139 (-5)T6. Caleb Sturgeon (1)    73-71=144 (E)T6. Matt NeSmith (2)    75-69=144 (E)T13. Ben Dietrich (5)   70-76=146 (+2)T16. Will Murphy (4) 71-76=147 (+3)*T39. Alan King        77-75=152 (+8)*Playing as an individual
TEAM STANDINGS1. South Carolina 283-286=569 (-7)2. Marquette 292-296=588 (+12)3. Presbyterian College 292-297=589 (+13)4. Missouri 299-293=592 (+16)5. Winthrop 295-298=593 (+17)6. Charleston Southern 292-302=594 (+18)T7. Towson 295-301=596 (+20)T7. Radford 291-305=596 (+20)9. Elon 300-298=598 (+22)10. Wisconsin 305-296=601 (+25)11. USC Upstate 297-305=602 (+26)12. Minnesota 309-297=606 (+30)T13. Western Kentucky 299-310=609 (+33)T13. Jacksonville St. 306-303=609 (+33)15. Richmond 301-314=615 (+39)16. Campbell 316-302=618 (+42)17. Creighton 312-313=625 (+49)18. George Washington 321-310=631 (+55)