Sophomore hopes to finish every event this season among top 10
With a golf club often in hand since the age of 3, it’s no wonder Caleb Sturgeon went on to become an NCAA Division I golfer.
Sturgeon’s competitiveness has made the sophomore a respected golfer in the nation and a leader among his teammates.
In October, he won his first collegiate tournament as a Gamecock. In three rounds, he shot three under par in his victory at the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic in Kiawah Island, S.C.
“I think it was really big for him,” USC coach Bill McDonald said. “I think he had a frustrating time the week before in Atlanta. For him, it was just a great thing in the sense that he came back from adversity.”
Sturgeon said hard work culminated at the tournament.
“It felt like I always achieved what I wanted by winning a college tournament,” Sturgeon said. “Now I can set a goal to win another tournament. It was kind of a relief to [realize] that I could win.”
McDonald said Sturgeon’s confidence and work ethic have contributed to his success, particularly after doubting himself his freshman year. Sturgeon has been focusing on chipping the ball and has recently found better success near the green.
Sturgeon’s teammates voted him a co-captain in the fall. McDonald said he was impressed that Sturgeon gained so much respect from his teammates as a sophomore.
“He’s been a great leader for our team and solid as a rock about every time we put him out there,” McDonald said.
Over the weekend, Sturgeon finished second on the team and tied for 28th place at the Augusta State Invitational after shooting a total of 221 ( 5). The Gamecocks finished fifth in the contest. One of Sturgeon’s goals for the remainder of the season is to finish every event in the top 10.
“I want to win every tournament I play in, but I guess that’s just the competitiveness in me,” Sturgeon said. “I don’t like to ever finish outside the top 10.”
This attitude has elevated Sturgeon’s game, but according to his coach, he has always had strengths that separate him.
“When he’s driving the ball well, his iron game can just pick apart a golf course,” McDonald said.
Sturgeon said his grandfather and their trips to the green during his childhood has had the biggest influence on his golf game. Country music and friendly competition with co-captain senior Dykes Harbin fire him up before playing.
“Me and Dykes kid around a lot, but we don’t like losing to each other,” Sturgeon said. “We kind of push each other. I guess that’s pretty much everyone on the team, though. We all push each other to beat everybody.”
McDonald thinks the pair’s competitiveness is promising.
“It’s the kind of thing you want on a college golf team,” McDonald said. “They’re playing an individual sport and you want them to push each other to help make the team better.”
Sturgeon’s personal expectations are high, but his goals for the team are even higher.
“We just want to make ourselves better for when the national championship comes around,” Sturgeon said. “Everyone on this team is really dedicated and everyone believes we can do it, so there’s not a doubt in my mind that we can win one.”
McDonald hopes Harbin and Sturgeon will keep excelling as the team heads into a match against Georgia Tech this weekend and in the SEC Championship.
“I’m looking for them to push our team toward getting ready,” McDonald said. “For Caleb, I want him to continue to progress like he has been. It’ll be challenging. We’ve played so many events in a row, and I think this is the time where we’re all a little beat up.”