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May 15, 2014

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EUGENE, Ore. — The fourth-seeded South Carolina men’s golf team shot a 286 (+6) on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Eugene Regional at Eugene Country Club.

The Gamecocks finished the day in a tie for third place with North Florida and are 10 shots back of tournament leader Stanford. The Cardinal turned in a 4-under 276 to take the lead with 36 holes left to play. The top five teams and low individual not on those teams will advance to next week’s NCAA Championship.

“I have a little bit of a mixed bag of emotions after what I saw out there,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “I saw a lot of really good golf and I saw some poor shots and bad decision making in certain parts of the round. We are in the final group tomorrow and are in a good position to play well the rest of the tournament. I was proud of the guys. It’s a tough golf course. It has high rough and firm, bouncing greens. I thought overall the round was fine.”

Sophomore Will Starke posted the low round of the day for the Gamecocks as he fired a 2-under 68. He will head into the second round in contention for medalist honors in a tie for fourth, trailing Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers by two strokes. Rodgers fired a 4-under 66 on Thursday.

After recording par on his first six holes of the day, Starke reeled off three-straight birdies on holes 16 through 18, including a 25-foot putt from off the fringe on No. 18, to make the turn at 3-under. He gave a stroke back with a bogey on No. 3 but moved back to 3-under with a birdie on the par-5 sixth. He later made his second bogey of the day on No. 8 and recorded par on the ninth to get into the clubhouse at 2-under.

Sophomore Matt NeSmith and freshman Ben Dietrich each carded a 2-over 72 to finish the round just outside the top 20 in a tie for 21st. NeSmith closed out the afternoon with three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on his scorecard, while Dietrich recorded five bogeys and three birdies.

Juniors Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy both turned in a 74 (+4) and are tied for 41st. Sturgeon made five bogeys on the day but closed out his round on a positive note with a birdie on the par-4 ninth. Murphy tallied four bogeys and a double bogey but had two of the highlights of the day for the Gamecocks. After hitting his tee shot into the water on the par-3 fifth, he holed out for par from the drop zone. He then made eagle on the par-5 sixth.

Oklahoma is second in the team standings with a total of 280 (E), while host Oregon rounds out the top five in fifth place with a total of 289 (+9).

The Gamecocks will tee off in the second round on Friday beginning at 9:15 a.m. PDT and will be paired with Stanford and Oklahoma. Live scoring will be available through GOLFSTAT.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTST4. Will Starke (3)      68 (-2)T21. Matt NeSmith (1)       72 (+2)T21. Ben Dietrich (5)       72 (+2)T41. Will Murphy (2)     74 (+4)T41. Caleb Sturgeon (4)       74 (+4)
TEAM STANDINGS1. Stanford 276 (-4)2. Oklahoma 280 (E)T3. South Carolina 286 (+6)T3. North Florida 286 (+6)5. Oregon 289 (+9)6. Houston 290 (+10)7. Baylor 294 (+14)T8. Chattanooga 295 (+15)T8. Liberty 295 (+15)T8. Wichita State 295 (+15)11. ETSU 296 (+16)12. Tennessee 299 (+19)13. Northern Colorado 307 (+27)