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May 29, 2015

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BRADENTON, Fla. — The sixth-ranked South Carolina men’s golf team posted a 301 (+13) on Friday at The Concession Golf Club to wrap up the opening round of the NCAA Championship in a tie for 20th.

The Gamecocks were as high as 16-over on the day but made up several shots down the stretch. The four golfers who counted combined to play the final three holes in 5-under with just one bogey.

The field will be cut to 15 teams after Sunday’s third round, and the top eight teams after Monday’s fourth round will advance to match play. Carolina will enter the second round just three strokes outside the top 15 and seven outside of the top eight. South Florida, Texas and UCLA are tied for eighth with a total of 294, while Charlotte, Florida State and Oklahoma State are tied for 14th after shooting 298.

Illinois shot a 2-under 286 and will head into the second round with a two-shot lead over Georgia. The Bulldogs carded an even-par 288. Southern California (289), San Diego State (290) and LSU (292) round out the top five.

Junior Sean Kelly was one of 23 golfers to record a round under par on Friday as he led the Gamecocks with a 1-under 71, closing out the round in a tie for 13th. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Kelly bogeyed his second hole of the day but bounced back to play the rest of the front nine in 3-under to make the turn with a 34 (-2). He fell back to 2-over on the day after playing his first six holes of the back nine in 4-over. However, he strung together three-straight birdies to close out his round to get into the clubhouse with a 71.

Junior Matt NeSmith turned in a solid 2-over 74 to finish the day tied for 54th. He tallied two birdies and four bogeys on the day.

Senior Caleb Sturgeon and junior Will Starke are tied for 108th after each shooting a 78 (+6), while senior Will Murphy carded an 83 (+11) and is tied for 152nd.

Illinois’ Thomas Detry and South Florida’s Claudia Correa share the individual lead after each firing a 4-under 68 on Friday.

Round Changer
After playing his first six holes of the back nine in 4-over, Kelly caught fire down the stretch and birdied his final three holes to get into the clubhouse with a 1-under 71.

• Sixteen teams out of 30 finished the round double digits over par.
• Only two teams shot par or better. Illinois carded a 286 (-2), while Georgia shot an even-par 288.
• Carolina’s round of 301 is its highest this season by 10 shots. The Gamecocks’ previous high was an opening-round 291 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate.
• Kelly’s 1-under 71 is his career NCAA Championship low. His previous best was a 73 in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
• Kelly’s 71 is also his third round under par out of four rounds this postseason. He also carded a 71 (-1) and 68 (-5) in the first two rounds of the NCAA Bremerton Regional.
• Kelly is tied for the lead in birdies with six.
• Starke recorded eagle on the par-5 third, his 11th this season. He entered the championship tied for first nationally in eagles.

South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald

“We got off to a terrible start today, but our guys hung in there and made up some shots coming to the house. It’s going to be a challenge to stay committed to being patient. It’s an extremely difficult test of golf overall. Hopefully, the way we finished will give us some momentum for tomorrow.”

Up Next
The Gamecocks will tee off in the second round on Saturday beginning at 7:20 a.m. off the 10th tee and will be paired with Vanderbilt and Illinois. Live scoring will be available at

Pos. Name R1 To Par
T13. Sean Kelly 71 -1
T54. Matt NeSmith 74 +2
T108. Will Starke 78 +6
T108. Caleb Sturgeon 78 +6
T152. Will Murphy 83 +11
Pos. Team R1 To Par
1. Illinois 286 -2
2. Georgia 288 E
3. Southern California 289 +1
4. San Diego State 290 +2
5. LSU 292 +4
T6. Florida 293 +5
T6. Georgia Tech 293 +5
T8. South Florida 294 +6
T8. Texas 294 +6
T8. UCLA 294 +6
T11. SMU 296 +8
T11. TCU 296 +8
13. Duke 297 +9
T14. Florida State 297 +9
T14. Charlotte 298 +10
T14. Oklahoma State 298 +10
17. Arizona State 299 +11
T18. Virginia 300 +12
T18. Oregon 300 +12
T20. Auburn 301 +13
T20. Houston 301 +13
T20. Vanderbilt 301 +13
T20. Washington 301 +13
T20. South Carolina 301 +13
25. UNLV 302 +14
26. Texas Tech 304 +16
27. Clemson 306 +18
28. UAB 308 +20
29. Stanford 310 +22
30. Oklahoma 312 +24