Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

May 13, 2015

Coach McDonald
Matt NeSmith

COLUMBIA, S.C — The sixth-ranked South Carolina men’s golf team opens play at the NCAA Bremerton Regional on Thursday in Bremerton, Wash.

The 54-hole event runs through Saturday at the par-72, 7,115-yard Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club. The Gamecocks earned the top seed in the regional and will compete against 13 teams. The top five teams and the low individual not on those teams will advance to the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 29-June 3 at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.

Dates: Thursday, May 14-Saturday, May 16
Location: Bremerton, Wash. • Gold Mountain Golf Club (Olympic Course) • Par: 72 • Yards: 7,115

Pos. Name Tourn. Rds. Avg. Low 18 Best Finish
1. Matt NeSmith 10 30 70.07 64 1st
2. Will Starke 10 30 69.97 63 1st
3. Will Murphy 9 27 71.63 66 T-8th
4. Caleb Sturgeon 10 39 71.90 66 T-5th
5. Sean Kelly 9 27 72.59 67 T-8th

Field: 14 teams (1. South Carolina, 2. Washington, 3. Southern California, 4. Baylor, 5. UAB, 6. TCU, 7. Iowa State, 8. Sam Houston State, 9. Michigan, 10. UC Davis, 11. VCU, 12. Pepperdine, 13. Cleveland State, 14. South Dakota). Five individuals (Byron Meth/Pacific, Jose Mendez/Minnesota-Twin Cities, Alex Franklin/Oregon State, Jordan Rodgers/BYU, James Fahy/Gonzaga)
Carolina’s First-Round Tee Time: 11 a.m. EDT (Paired with Washington, Southern California)
Notes: Bremerton Regional Get Acrobat Reader
Live Scoring: Golfstat

From the Coach
“It’s going to be quite a trip for us,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “But I think it’s a good golf course for us also. Gold Mountain (Golf Club) is where the U.S. Junior (Amateur Championship) was held a few years ago, and we have two golfers, Will Starke and Matt NeSmith, that participated in that tournament. Both played well that week. We went out to Oregon last year, and it worked out for us. We are going to make it a fun trip, go out a day early to get used to the time change and hopefully have a great week.”

Carolina History at NCAA Regionals
The Gamecocks are making their 23rd NCAA Regional appearance all-time and its 19th in the last 20 seasons. Carolina has advanced to the NCAA Championship the last two seasons and 18 times overall. The Gamecocks have won one regional title, winning the 2007 West Regional at the ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz. Three Carolina golfers finished in the top 20 that year, with George Bryan IV finishing tied for 10th and Mark Anderson and Florian Fritsch tying for 18th. The Gamecocks have finished runner-up three times (1999, 2009, 2013), while Kyle Thompson won medalist honors in 1999 and shared medalist honors in 2001. (See page 5 for complete regional history)

Last Time at NCAA Regionals
South Carolina advanced to the NCAA Championship with a fifth-place finish at the 2014 NCAA West Regional at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. The Gamecocks finished with a 54-hole total of 880 (+40). Will Starke led the way, posting a total of 217 (+7) to finish tied for 16th. Caleb Sturgeon and Ben Dietrich tied for 22nd with a total of 220 (+10).

Breaking Down the Field
South Carolina is one of 14 teams in the NCAA Bremerton Regional. Eight teams are ranked in the top 50 of the Golfstat Relative Rankings, including four in the top 20. The sixth-ranked Gamecocks earned the No. 1 seed. Washington, the tournament host, is the No. 2 seed, while No. 17 Southern California and No. 18 Baylor are the third and fourth seeds. UAB is the No. 5 seed, followed by TCU, Iowa State, Sam Houston State, Michigan, UC Davis, VCU, Pepperdine, Cleveland State and South Dakota. Three teams in the field – Washington, UC Davis and Pepperdine – played the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain in September for the Husky Invitational.

All 14 teams in the regional have won at least one tournament title this season, with five winning three or more tournaments. The Gamecocks won a school-record five times this season, while Southern California, Baylor, Sam Houston State and South Dakota have all won three times.

Experience at Gold Mountain
Juniors Will Starke and Matt NeSmith both played Gold Mountain Golf Club’s Olympic Course during the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and played extremely well. Starke finished runner-up in the stroke play portion of the event with a total of 139, one stroke ahead of 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth (140). Spieth went on to win match play, while Starke advanced to the quarterfinals. NeSmith finished tied for 10th in stroke play to earn a spot in the field of 64 for match play.

We’re No. 1
South Carolina is the only school in the country in which both the men’s and women’s golf programs earned No. 1 seeds. The Gamecock women’s team received the top seed to the NCAA Raleigh Regional.

SEC Champion
Junior Matt NeSmith won medalist honors at the SEC Championship by six strokes, posting a school-record 54-hole total of 196 (-14) at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course. He joined Eric Ecker (1998) as the only Gamecock golfers to win an SEC title. He also became the first Gamecock to win consecutive events since Carl Paulson won the PING Intercollegiate (4/11/93) and the Billy Hitchcock Intercollegiate (4/25/93) back-to-back in 1993.

NeSmith, Starke Garner First-Team All-SEC Honors
Carolina juniors Matt NeSmith and Will Starke earned first-team All-SEC honors. The selection marks the third-straight year NeSmith has been named to an All-SEC team, while this is Starke’s first All-SEC honor. NeSmith was named to the second team last year and received Co-SEC Freshman of the Year and All-Freshman Team honors in 2013. This also marks the first time two Gamecocks have been on the first team since 2008, when Mark Anderson and George Bryan IV received first-team honors.

NeSmith became just the second Gamecock to win an SEC title as he claimed a six-stroke victory at the SEC Championship with a school-record 54-hole total of 196 (-14). He has finished in the top 20 in seven of 10 events this season, including two tournament wins. Starke has finished in the top 15 in eight of 10 events this season, including six top fives and a tournament win. His six top-five finishes are tied for the most in a single season in school history

High Five
The Gamecocks have won a school-record five tournament titles this season, including three during the spring schedule. Carolina set the record by shooting a final-round 271 (-17) to capture the Hootie at Bulls Bay title on March 31 with a total of 838 (-26).

Nine and Counting
The Gamecocks have finished in the top five in a school-record nine-straight events, with eight being top-three showings. The nine top-five finishes this season also matches the school record for the most in a single season. Carolina has finished in the top five in 18 of its last 22 events dating back to last season, including eight tournament wins.

Built to Finish
Carolina has held the 36-hole lead in three tournaments this season and went on to win the tournament title each time. The Gamecocks held on to win the Bayou City Collegiate Championship on Feb. 22 by two strokes, the Palmetto Intercollegiate on March 10 by one stroke over rival Clemson and the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate on March 31 by 11 strokes.

Keeping it Under Par
The Gamecocks’ team scoring average of 280.93 is on pace to shatter the school single-season mark of 287.46 set by last year’s squad. Carolina’s average leads the SEC. The Gamecocks have shot under par as a team in 19 rounds this season.

Season Scoring Average - Team    Year    Rds.    Strokes Avg. 1.   2014-15 27  7,585   280.932.  2013-14 35  10,061  287.463.  2009-10 31  8,919   287.704.  2007-08 32  9,256   289.255.  1997-98 39  11,292  289.54

Seeing Red Numbers
Four Gamecocks’ stroke averages currently rank in the top 10 in school history for a single season. Will Starke’s average of 69.97 ranks first, while Matt NeSmith is not far behind in second with an average of 70.07. Will Murphy ranks fourth with an average of 71.63, and Caleb Sturgeon ranks sixth with an average of 71.90.

Season Scoring Average - Individual1. Will Starke (2015) 69.972. Matt NeSmith (2015)   70.073. G. Bryan IV (2010)   71.354. Will Murphy (2015) 71.635. K. Thompson (2001)   71.836. C. Sturgeon(2015) 71.907. W. Heintzelman(1984) 71.978. Mark Anderson (2008) 72.009. Paul Woodbury (2010) 72.0610. Wesley Bryan (2010) 72.12

Racking Up Top-Fives
Will Starke has recorded six top-five finishes this season, which is tied for the most in a single season in school history with Kyle Thompson, who tallied six top-five finishes in 1998-99.

Single-Season Top 5s1.   Will Starke  2014-15 6    Kyle Thompson   1998-99 62.  David Seawell   1993-94 5    Carl Paulson    1992-93 5    W. Heintzelman  1983-84 5

Rewriting the Career Records
Seniors Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy and juniors Will Starke and Matt NeSmith continue to climb up South Carolina’s career scoring average list. NeSmith currently ranks first all-time with an average of 71.74, while Starke isn’t far behind in second with an average of 71.81. Sturgeon ranks fourth all-time with an average of 72.79, while Murphy is sixth with an average of 72.94.

Starke also has 11 career top-five finishes, which is tied for the third most all-time at Carolina with George Bryan IV (2006-10). His 13 career top-10 finishes rank eighth all-time at South Carolina. NeSmith is tied for the fifth all-time in career top-five (9) and top-10 (16) finishes.

Career Scoring Average(Min. 60 Rounds & Two Years) 1. M. NeSmith (2012-pres.)   71.742. W. Starke (2012-pres.)    71.813. George Bryan IV (2006-10)    72.374. C. Sturgeon (2011-pres.)  72.795. Kyle Thompson (1997-00)  72.816. W. Murphy (2011-pres.)    72.947. David Seawell (1993-96)  73.058. Eirik Johansen (2002-06) 73.129. Mark Silvers III (2005-09)   73.1510. Wesley Bryan (2008-2012)    73.23
Career Top-5 Finishes1. Kyle Thompson    1997-00 14   David Seawell    1993-96 143.Will Starke    2012-present    11   George Bryan IV  2006-10 115. Matt NeSmith  2012-present    9   Eirik Johansen   2002-06 9
Career Top-10 Finishes1. Kyle Thompson    1997-00 222. Eirik Johansen   2002-06 20   David Seawell    1993-96 204. George Bryan IV  2006-10 175. Matt NeSmith  2012-present    16   Eric Ecker           1996-00 167. Carl Paulson         1989-93 148. Will Starke    2012-present    139. Wesley Bryan         2008-12 12   Brett Quigley    1987-91 12

Protecting the Palmetto State
Carolina has played in three tournaments in South Carolina this season and won all three titles. The Gamecocks won the Camden Collegiate Invitational (Camden, S.C.), the Palmetto Intercollegiate (Aiken, S.C.) and the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate (Awendaw, S.C.).

Three Straight a First
The Gamecocks became the first team in Carolina history to win three straight tournaments with their victory at the Palmetto Intercollegiate. Carolina won the Camden Collegiate Invitational to close out the fall and opened the spring with a win at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship before winning the Palmetto.

League Leaders
The Gamecocks rank first in the SEC in tournament wins (5) and in team scoring average (280.93). Carolina also has four golfers in the top 25 in the SEC in scoring average, as Will Starke ranks fourth (69.97), Matt NeSmith ranks fifth (70.07), Will Murphy ranks 16th (71.63) and Caleb Sturgeon is tied for 21st (71.90).

McDonald’s 14
Gamecock head coach Bill McDonald is the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history with 14. McDonald broke the previous record of nine held by Puggy Blackmon (1995-2007) with Carolina’s win at the Carpet Capital Collegiate this fall. The Gamecocks then gave McDonald his 11th tournament title with a win at the Camden Collegiate Invitational to close out the fall. Carolina opened the spring by winning the Bayou City Collegiate Championship and then won the Palmetto Intercollegiate. Carolina set the school record for wins in a season by claiming its fifth tournament title with a win at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate to close out the regular season.

Consensus Top 10
The Gamecocks have consistently been ranked in the top 25 in the golf rankings the last two seasons but they enter the NCAA Bremerton Regional a consensus top-10 team. Carolina is currently ranked No. 6 in the Golfstat Relative Rankings, No. 6 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll and No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.

Gamecocks in the Golfstat Statistics Rankings
As a team South Carolina ranks third in the nation in average score (71.39) and fourth versus par (+0.18). The Gamecocks are seventh in par-3 scoring (3.12), fifth in par-4 scoring (4.05) and 11th in par-5 scoring (4.75). Carolina is tied for fifth in eagles (21) and ranks 12th in subpar strokes per round (3.50). Individually, junior Will Starke ranks 10th nationally in scoring average (69.97), 15th versus par (-1.23), tied for first in eagles (10) and 11th in subpar strokes per round (4.47). Junior Matt NeSmith ranks 12th in scoring average (70.07), 17th versus par (-1.13), 18th in par-3 scoring (3.04) and 12th in par-4 scoring (3.96).

Among the Best in the World
South Carolina senior Will Murphy and junior Matt NeSmith are ranked in the top 100 in the latest Golfweek/ World Player Rankings. Murphy is No. 31 in the world and No. 20 in the U.S., while NeSmith is No. 54 in the world and No. 26 in the U.S. In the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, NeSmith is ranked No. 50, Murphy is ranked No. 53 and junior Will Starke is No. 62.