No. 13 Gamecocks Open Play at SECs Wednesday
Carolina No. 4 seed at this week's conference championship at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – No. 13 South Carolina tees off at 7:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning with No. 16 Georgia and No. 22 Alabama in round one of the 2019 SEC Championship. For the third consecutive season, teams will play 54 holes of stroke play followed by eight team match play to determine a conference champion.
The semifinals of match play on Saturday afternoon will be available on SEC Network+. The finals on Sunday will air live on the SEC Network at 7:30 a.m. ET for the second straight year. No. 12 Auburn is the defending champion.
“We’re just excited to get going,” said head coach Bill McDonald. “Sea Island is a great venue to host this championship. Going to this new format now – match play is really exciting. The one thing about this group this spring is that we’ve seemed to play the tough courses well and the easier courses – we’ve been able to make a lot of birdies on those. When you combine the fact they know the course well and they’re in good form, I think it looks good for us overall.”
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It’s the same lineup for the sixth-straight tournament of seniors Scott Stevens, Ryan Stachler and Will Miles along with juniors Caleb Proveaux and Jamie Wilson for the Gamecocks. The five have boded well for Carolina, earning three wins in the team’s last five outings. Each player has a sub-72 scoring average and has multiple top-five finishes this spring.
Talented freshman Ryan Hall will be the team’s substitute. A new rule was implemented for college golf postseason play this year by the NCAA, allowing teams to sub a player in at any time over the course of a given tournament prior to the start of a round or match.
For the 17th season, the SEC Championship will be contested at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course. The SEC has conducted its annual championship on St. Simons Island since 2001 (Seaside Course 2001-2007, 2010-2017; Frederica Golf Club 2008-2009). Since 1927, Sea Island Golf Club has enjoyed a legacy as one of America’s premier golf clubs.
ABOUT THE COURSE
Rated No. 1 in the U.S. among the “World’s 50 Best Golf Hotels” by Golf Digest Index, Sea Island Golf Club offers three exceptional 18-hole championship courses. The Seaside Course, home to the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic, is a links course graced by majestic ocean vistas in the tradition of St. Andrews.
Seaside was totally reconfigured by Tom Fazio and reopened in October 1999. The new Seaside Course is the brilliant blending of Colt & Allison’s original nine-hole Seaside and Joe Lee’s Marshside nine into one seamless, contemporary 18-hole golf course. Tidal creeks, dunes, saltmarshes and St. Simons Sound frame the course which plays fast, firm and fun in the tradition of legendary Scottish links.
The course will play a par-70 at 7,005 yards.
In 12 SEC Championship appearances under head coach Bill McDonald dating back to 2007, Carolina has finished in the top-five six times with three runner-up finishes. Three-time All-American Matt NeSmith became the Gamecocks’ third all-time SEC Individual Champion after earning medalist honors in 2015, helping the team to a T-2nd finish. The four-year standout shot a program-record 196 en route to the win.
The SEC is annually the nation’s premiere college golf conference and this year is no different with six of the 14 teams in the field this week ranked in the top-25 of the latest Golfstat Team Rankings (4/17/19) led by No. 4 Vanderbilt. Every team is ranked in the top-65. A total of 19 players from the conference are ranked in the top-100 of the latest Golfstat Player Rankings (4/17/19).
Last season, the SEC became the first conference to have every member institution selected to NCAA Regionals.
Here’s the full field and where the teams stack up in the latest Golfstat Team Rankings:
1. Vanderbilt (4)
2. LSU (11)
3. Auburn (12)
4. South Carolina (13)
5. Georgia (16)
6. Alabama (22)
7. Texas A&M (26)
8. Tennessee (35)
9. Arkansas (37)
10. Florida (40)
11. Kentucky (52)
12. Ole Miss (54)
13. Mississippi State (55)
14. Missouri (64)
*rankings as of 4/17/19
Gamecock head coach Bill McDonald is the winningest coach by tournament victories in school history with 24 wins, three of which have come during the 2018-19 season. The team’s three wins this season marks the fourth time the Gamecocks have won three or more times in the same season under his direction (2012-13, 2014-2015, 2015-16, 2018-19). McDonald broke the previous record of nine wins held by Puggy Blackmon (1995-2007) with Carolina’s victory at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in September 2014. His squad captured a school-record five wins during the 2014-15
South Carolina will find out where its headed for NCAA Regionals on Wednesday, May 1. The NCAA Selection Show will air live on the Golf Channel at 9 p.m. ET.