Nov. 5, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history, the South Carolina men’s golf team kept the momentum going this fall.
The Gamecocks finished in the top five in three of their four fall events, including two tournament wins. Carolina also defeated No. 13 Virginia in match play.
Here’s a look at Carolina’s accomplishments this fall by the numbers:
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The Gamecocks recorded three top-five finishes in four events this fall, including two tournament wins. Carolina has finished in the top five in 12 of its last 15 events, including five wins.
The two tournament victories gave head coach Bill McDonald 11 for his career, making him the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history.
The Gamecocks are currently ranked No. 7 in the Golfstat Relative Rankings. The ranking is Carolina’s highest in the Golfstat rankings since being ranked No. 7 during the 2010 spring season.
Carolina finished the fall with a 36-8 head-to-head record against teams in the tournaments it played in, including a 10-3 record against SEC teams. The Gamecocks had head-to-head wins over defending national champion Alabama and Oklahoma State, last year’s national runner-up.
With three top-five finishes in four events, junior Will Starke now has eight for his career, which is tied for the fifth most all-time at South Carolina with Eric Ecker (1996-2000).
Individually, South Carolina had eight top-10 finishes with at least one golfer finishing in the top 10 in all four events. The Gamecocks had one in the top 10 at the Carmel Cup (Caleb Sturgeon T-10th), two at the Carpet Capital Collegiate (Starke T-4th, Will Murphy T-8th), two at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup (Starke 2nd, Matt NeSmith T-4th) and three at the Camden Collegiate Invitational (Sturgeon T-5th, Starke T-5th, NeSmith T-7th).
With two top-10 finishes, junior Matt NeSmith pushed his career total to 13, moving him to seventh on the Gamecocks’ career top-10 finishes list.
Senior Caleb Sturgeon recorded one top-five finish to give him five for his career, which is tied for the 10th most in school history.
Three Gamecocks wrapped up the fall in the top five on South Carolina’s career scoring average list. NeSmith currently sits atop the list with an average of 72.24, while Starke isn’t far behind in second with an average of 72.32. Sturgeon ranks fifth all-time with an average of 72.98.
The Gamecocks are on pace to break the program’s season scoring average record for the second-straight year as they finished the fall with an average of 283.78, which is the lowest fall average of record in school history. Carolina broke the season record last year with an average of 287.46.
Individually, the Gamecocks recorded 12 top-20 finishes in four tournaments, including eight top 10s and five top fives.
Four Gamecocks finished the fall with a stroke average in the 72s. Starke led the way with an average of 70, followed by NeSmith (71), Sturgeon (72.33) and senior Will Murphy (72.33). The school record for a single season is held by George Bryan IV, who finished the 2009-10 season with an average of 71.35.
Three Gamecocks have a scoring average in the 73s. Junior Sean Kelly has an average of 73.11 after playing in three events. Sophomore Ben Dietrich and senior Blaine Woodruff have an average of 73.33 after playing in four events and one event, respectively.
Starke’s scoring average of 70 is tied for 14th nationally in Golfstat’s statistic rankings.
Ten of Starke’s 12 rounds have been par or better, including seven rounds below 70. During one stretch he posted five consecutive rounds below 70, shooting 67, 69, 69, 68, 69.
Starke’s average of 4.51 on par-5 scoring ranks ninth in the nation in Golfstat’s statistic rankings.
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Starke recorded four Eagles in the fall, which is tied for the fourth most in the nation, while NeSmith tallied three eagles, tied for the 16th most nationally.
Sturgeon and Murphy tied for the team’s low round of the fall as each shot a 66 (-6). Sturgeon carded a second-round 66 at The Carmel Cup on his way to a tie for 10th finish, while Murphy fired a 66 in the final round of the Carpet Capital Collegiate to finish tied for eighth and lead the Gamecocks to the tournament title.
Nine of the 10 golfers on the roster played in at least one tournament in the fall, with six recording one or more top-20 finishes.