Men’s golf sets school record with conference tourney score
The South Carolina men’s golf team finished second to Alabama at the 2013 SEC Championship held this weekend in St. Simons Island, Ga. The team was two strokes away from winning the program’s first SEC title, and a school record was set for the lowest 54-hole SEC Championship score.
The Gamecocks were in second place after the first round of the championship Friday, led by sophomore Caleb Sturgeon’s career-low 65. His round is also the lowest ever by a Gamecock at the SEC Championship. He finished the tournament at 5-under-par. Three of the golfers finished the day in the top five.
South Carolina ended Saturday in the lead with three strokes fewer than No. 2 Alabama, but the Crimson Tide pulled away Sunday.
USC was tied with Alabama when Sturgeon triple-bogeyed at the 16th hole. He bounced back on the next two in order to give his team a chance, making par on the 17th and birdie on the 18th. But it was too little, too late.
“He had a great tournament and a runner-up finish in the best conference in the country individually is nothing to be ashamed of,” coach Bill McDonald said.
McDonald said his triple bogey on the 16th was a “double-edged sword” for Sturgeon because it hurt his chances to win individually, as well as the team’s score. But McDonald said the Gamecocks “wouldn’t have had the chance to win as a team if (Sturgeon) hadn’t played so well.”
Senior Dykes Harbin tied for seventh, claiming his fourth top 10 finish this season.
“He’s our senior captain and does a great job, and I know he wants to go out on a high note,” McDonald said.
Freshman Matt NeSmith made his first introduction to the SEC Championship and finished with a tie for 20th, his eighth top-20 finish of the season. Freshman Will Starke’s performance resulted in him tying for 63rd.
McDonald said he thought the freshmen did well, especially with tough conditions, calling the weekend “great experience for them.”
McDonald said the weekend was “great preparation” for the upcoming NCAA regionals. USC will learn its fate May 6 and will be selected to compete in one of the following regionals: Baton Rouge, La.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Columbus, Ohio; Fayetteville, Ark.; Pullman, Wash.; or Tempe, Ariz.
“Going through that stress and pressure … should do nothing but help us for regional play,” McDonald said.