No. 15 South Carolina Ready for NCAA Championship Friday
Gamecocks tee off at 7:50 a.m. ET Friday morning with No. 16 LSU and No. 17 Texas A&M
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 15 South Carolina makes its return to the NCAA Championship (April 24-29), as the first round gets underway on Friday morning at Blessings Golf Club. It marks the program’s 21st all-time appearance and first since a program record four-straight trips from 2013-16.
“This team has played some really good golf this spring, and I know the guys are all looking forward to competing for a National Championship at the Blessings,” said head coach Bill McDonald. “We have the talent and character on this team to make a good run, and we are excited to get out to Fayetteville and get a feel for the course and the surroundings.”
Carolina opens play in the championship at 7:50 a.m. ET on Friday morning and will be paired with No. 17 LSU and No. 18 Texas A&M. The Gamecocks, who will remain paired with the Tigers and Aggies for round two, tee off Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET in the afternoon wave of tee times.
Live scoring will be available via Golfstat.
It’ll be the same lineup for South Carolina that punched the team’s ticket with a dramatic final round comeback at the NCAA Pullman Regional last week. The senior trio of Scott Stevens, Will Miles and Ryan Stachler hold steady in the top-three spots in the lineup, while junior Caleb Proveaux and freshman Ryan Hall anchor the four- and five-man positions.
Stevens, a First Team All-SEC selection that’s ranked in the top-25 of the Golfstat player rankings, is fresh off his finest performance of the season out west at regionals. He matched a career 54-hole best of 198 (-12) with three-straight rounds in the 60s en route to a T-3rd finish. Hall also had a nice tournament for the Gamecocks, finishing T-24th at 5-under (205) in his first start of the spring. The Knoxville, Tenn., native, has four top-25 finishes in six starts during the 2018-19 season. He missed most of the spring with a wrist injury but is back healthy again.
Golf Channel will be airing live coverage of the final three days in Fayetteville. Thirty of the nation’s top teams play 54-holes Friday-Sunday with a cut to the top-15 for the final round on Monday which marks the start of the television coverage. The NCAA Individual Champion will be crowned with the conclusion of stroke play. The NCAA Match Play Quarterfinals and Semifinals will be broadcast live on Tuesday, with the National Championship Match also being aired live on Wednesday.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP TV SCHEDULE
Monday, May 27 Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. ET (Live)
Tuesday, May 28 Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Tuesday, May 28 Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. ET (Live)
Wednesday, May 29 Team National Championship 4-8 p.m. ET (Live)
HISTORY AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
This marks Carolina’s 21st all-time NCAA Championship and the seventh under head coach Bill McDonald in his 13 seasons leading the program. It’s the first national championship appearance for the Gamecocks since the historic 2015-16 season, in which Carolina tallied the best finish in program history at T-5th. The Gamecocks advanced to the NCAA Match Play Quarterfinals for the first time ever, where the team fell 4-1 to Illinois. All five matches were tight, as the Illini had a pair of 1-up wins and a pair of 2&1 victories. Scott Stevens, then a freshman, won his match over All-American Dylan Meyer, 4&3, marking the first ever NCAA Match Play point in Carolina history.
Carolina has four top-15 finishes with a pair of top-10s in McDonald’s six previous trips to NCAAs. The team finished T-11th in 2007 after winning the NCAA West Regional when McDonald served as interim head coach. The Gamecocks just missed match play in 2014 finishing ninth and 2015 finishing 13th.
It’s a stacked and deep 30-team field per usual at the NCAA Championship. Every team in the top-25 of the latest Golfstat rankings will be in Fayetteville except No. 19 Texas Tech. The SEC is tied with the ACC for the most teams in the field with six. The Big 12 has five schools, while the Pac-12 has four teams competing.
Thirteen of the 14 teams from the Southeastern Conference earned NCAA Regional bids. Last season, the SEC became the first league in the country to have all member institutions selected to play in regionals.
2019 NCAA MEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
(listed by seed)
1. Oklahoma State 1
2. Arizona State 2
3. Wake Forest 3
4. Vanderbilt 4
5. Texas 5
6. Oklahoma 6
7. Georgia Tech 7
8. Duke 8
9. Southern Cal 9
10. Stanford 10
11. Auburn 11
12. Cal 12
13. Clemson 13
14. Georgia 14
15. BYU 29
16. South Carolina 15
17. LSU 16
18. Texas A&M 17
19. North Florida 18
20. Pepperdine 20
21. Louisville 21
22. Liberty 22
23. Baylor 23
24. Ilinois 24
25. North Carolina 25
26. TCU 28
27. UNLV 33
28. Ohio State 42
29. Georgia Southern 51
30. SMU 53
Trailing by four shots heading into the third round of the NCAA Pullman Regional, South Carolina needed to post a special number to make things interesting. The team got it with a final round score of 267 (-13), the second lowest round of any team throughout the tournament and the lowest 18-hole score posted by the Gamecocks all season. The four counting scores all shot par or better with three numbers in the 60s. Senior Scott Stevens and freshman Ryan Hall were bogey free, shooting 65 (-5) and 66 (-4) respectively. Senior Will Miles also shot 66 (-4). Junior Caleb Proveaux was the final counting tally with an even par 70. Stevens finished T-3rd at 12-under, his 198 tying a career-low score. He had one bogey and one double all week, the only blemishes on his scorecard.
Carolina trailed the cutline by 10 shots at the turn and five shots with three holes to play. Stevens birdied 16 and 17. Miles, Proveaux and Hall all posted red numbers at the par-5 18th. Stevens made par on 18 to send things to a sudden death playoff with Colorado State for the fifth and final posistion.
In the playoff at the par-4 ninth hole, the teams went off in fivesomes. Hall and Proveaux were in the first wave, with the Gamecocks senior trio of Miles, Stevens and Stachler in the second one. Nine of the 10 players found the fairway with their tee shots, and nine of the 10 players had birdie looks. The teams split after the first wave, Carolina with a pair of pars and the Rams with a birdie, par and bogey. Every player in the second wave had a birdie putt. Miles had about a 50-footer, while Stevens and Stachler had makeable looks inside 12 feet. Stachler, who struggled the final day with a 75 (+5), sunk his 8-foot birdie putt from above the hole to give the Gamecocks a leg up. CSU was in at even par with a pair of fours on the hole. Miles then made par from about 7-feet out and Stevens tapped in for par to send the Gamecocks back to the NCAA Championship.
STEVENS, MILES NAMED ALL-SEC
The senior duo of Scott Stevens and Will Miles was recently named All-SEC, as the league announced its postseason awards late last week. Stevens was named First Team All-SEC, while Miles was named to the Second Team. It’s the second all-league recognition for Stevens (Second Team selection as a sophomore in 2017) and the first for Miles. The two players mark the 15th and 16th All-SEC players under McDonald.
South Carolina has been on a tear this spring. In the team’s final five regular season events dating back to the Clevleand Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate (March 11-12), the Gamecocks shot 111-under par with three wins, a third-place finish in a loaded field at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational (March 17-19) and a runner-up finish at the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational (April 6-7). During the stretch, Carolina recorded a team scoring average of 277.50 with 267 birdies and 15 eagles.