By the Numbers: A Look Back at the 2013-14 Men's Golf Season
June 10, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s golf team had one of the most successful seasons in school history under the guidance of head coach Bill McDonald in 2013-14, culminating with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Here’s a look at the Gamecocks’ accomplishments by the numbers:
South Carolina claimed ninth place at the NCAA Championship, the second highest finish at the event in school history. The Gamecocks came up one stroke shy of being in a three-team playoff for the eighth and final spot in match play. The program’s best NCAA Championship finish is a tie for eighth showing in 1988 at North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
South Carolina also recorded nine top-five finishes in 12 events, matching the school record set by the 1998-99 squad.
The Gamecocks posted a total of 846 (+6) at the NCAA Championship, which is the best 54-hole NCAA Championship total in school history.
Junior Will Murphy tied for 15th with a total of 208 (-2) at the NCAA Championship to earn his first career All-America honor. His finish is the fourth highest by a Gamecock all-time at the national championship.
The Gamecocks finished the year ranked No. 14 in the Golfstat Relative Rankings. It is South Carolina’s highest final ranking by Golfstat since finishing ranked No. 14 in 2009.
South Carolina reeled off a school-record seven-straight top-three finishes during the regular season, surpassing the 1998-99 team’s stretch of six straight.
South Carolina claimed three tournament titles during the regular season, falling one win shy of matching the school record of four set by the 1990-91 and 2008-09 teams. This year’s Gamecock squad is the fifth in school history to win three tournaments, joining the 1981-82, 1990-91, 2003-04 and 2008-09 teams. South Carolina had the same lineup of juniors Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy, sophomores Matt NeSmith and Will Starke and freshman Ben Dietrich for all three tournament wins.
In their three tournament wins, the Gamecocks’ average margin of victory was 21.67 strokes. South Carolina won the Badger Invitational by 24 strokes, the Kiawah Classic by 22 shots and the Seahawk Intercollegiate by 19.
The Gamecocks’ season scoring average of 287.46 ranks first all-time at South Carolina, besting the 2009-10 squad’s average of 287.70.
Two Gamecocks captured medalist honors during the regular season. Sturgeon won the Badger Invitational by six strokes with a total of 206 (-10), while Starke finished first at the Seahawk Intercollegiate with a 36-hole total of 137 (-7).
Individually, South Carolina recorded 26 top-20 finishes in team events this season, including 14 top 10s and 11 top fives.
South Carolina had at least one golfer finish in the top 10 in eight of the 12 events.
NeSmith and Starke recorded four top-five finishes apiece, which is tied for the fifth most in a single-season in school history.
Four Gamecocks also received individual accolades throughout the season. Murphy earned All-America honors. NeSmith was a second-team All-SEC selection and garnered PING All-Southeast Region honors. Sturgeon was named Golfweek’s National Golfer of the Week on Oct. 8, and Starke received SEC Golfer of the Week honors on March 19.
Four Gamecocks wrapped up the season with a stroke average in the 72s, the first time of record this has happened in school history. Starke (72.20), NeSmith (72.26), Murphy (72.63) and Sturgeon (72.89) all finished with a stroke average below 73 after playing in all 12 tournaments. Three of the four averages rank in the top 20 all-time for a single season at South Carolina.
Murphy’s stroke average of 72.63 is the lowest in a single season by a junior in school history.
Starke shot a career-low 64 on two occasions this season, with the first being in the opening round of the Seahawk Intercollegiate and the second in the first round of the NCAA Championship. He’s the only Gamecock golfer of record to accomplish the feat twice in the same season. His rounds of 64 are tied for the third lowest 18-hole score in program history.