The Daily Gamecock

Men's golf begins drive to SEC championship

Gamecocks start season at Bayou City Collegiate

This weekend The South Carolina men’s golf team will kick off its spring season beginning Friday at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship golf tournament in Humble, Texas where the team will face off against 14 other schools, including the second-ranked Texas Longhorns, winners of the 2012 National Championship.

After coming just two strokes short of defeating last year’s NCAA and SEC champion Alabama in the SEC championship, the Gamecocks are hungry to get a new season started.

Coming off of that somewhat unexpected second-place finish in the SEC tournament last year, the team entered the Golf World/Golf Coaches top-25 for the first time all year after finishing in the top-two in three of the four tournaments they participated in during the fall.

In-between the fall and spring seasons, the Gamecocks tried to build upon their new-found success in preparation for the 2014 season.

The 10-man roster includes seven players returning from last year’s team, so experience should not be an issue. In addition to the seven returning starters, two highly-touted recruits, Ben Dietrich and Kieron Fowler, as well as Wofford transfer Alan King, should provide this South Carolina team with even more talent.

Some major contributors to look out for this season are junior Caleb Sturgeon and sophomore Matt NeSmith. NeSmith, coming off of one of the best seasons by a freshman in South Carolina golf history was last year’s co-SEC freshman of the year after finishing the season with seven top-10 finishes. Sturgeon, who leads the team with the lowest career scoring average, says that he plans to remain just as competitive as he was in his first two years.

“The individual goal that I set for myself is to finish inside of the top-10 in every event we compete in this season,” Sturgeon said. “And as a team we just try to focus on winning the next event.”

Coach Bill McDonald, entering his seventh season at the helm, believes that experience and the team’s schedule will be beneficial for his team come time for the conference championships.

“[This course] is a great place to start because it’s like playing at a (PGA) tour event,” McDonald said. “I know the guys are excited about that. We have a great spring schedule and before you know it, it’ll be SEC championship time, so I think we’ve got a great opportunity to come together and do well in the spring.”