MILTON, Ga. — Led by a pair of even-par 70s from the
freshman duo of Matt NeSmith and Will Starke, the 20th-ranked South Carolina
men's golf team posted a 6-over 286 on Tuesday to open play at the NCAA
Championship at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course.
The Gamecocks remain firmly in the mix to secure one of
the eight spots available for match play as they finished the day in a five-way
tie for 14th place, just seven shots out of eighth place. South Carolina has
two more rounds of stroke play left to work its way up the leaderboard before
the field is cut to eight teams for match play.
“We didn't have our best day, but overall I thought the
guys looked pretty good,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “I
didn't see a whole lot of putts being made, but we struck the ball well. If we
can get our putters hot tomorrow, I believe we can have a great round and get
back in this thing.”
Arizona State sits atop the leaderboard after shooting a
10-under 270. Host Georgia Tech is in second with a total of 274, while Alabama
(275), Illinois (276), California (277), Oklahoma (278), Texas (279) and
Oklahoma State (279) round out the top eight.
Individually, NeSmith and Starke are in a tie for 33rd,
nine strokes back of Arizona State's Jon Rahm for the tournament lead. Rahm
fired a 9-under 61, which was one stroke off the NCAA Championship record.
The Gamecocks began the round on the 10th hole, and
NeSmith had an up and down front nine as he bogeyed the 10th to begin the day.
He got the stroke back with a birdie on the par-5 12th but tallied bogeys on
holes 14 and 17 to make the turn at 2-over. He made a move toward red numbers
on the back side with back-to-back birdies on holes three and four but he made
five straight pars to close out his round to remain at even.
Starke continued his solid play from the Columbus
regional and found red numbers early in his round as he sank a birdie putt on
the par-3 13th to get to 1-under. He gave a stroke back right before the turn
with a bogey on No. 17 to shoot an even-par 35 on the front side. After three
straight pars to begin the back nine, he birdied No. 4 but gave the stroke
right back with a bogey on the fifth. He then made four consecutive pars to
wrap up his round.
Sophomores Caleb Sturgeon and Sean Kelly each carded a
3-over 73 to finish the day in tie for 95th. Sturgeon recorded three birdies
and six bogeys on the afternoon, while Kelly tallied three birdies, four bogeys
and a double bogey.
Senior Dykes Harbin is in a tie for 113th after posting a
4-over 74 on Tuesday that included four bogeys.
The Gamecocks will tee off in the second round on
Wednesday at 12:40 p.m. and will be paired with Texas A&M and Saint Mary's.
Live scoring will be available at NCAA.com.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
T33. Matt NeSmith (3) 70
T33. Will Starke (4) 70
T95. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 73
T95. Sean Kelly (5) 73
T113. Dykes Harbin (1) 74
1. Arizona State 270
2. Georgia Tech 274
3. Alabama 275
4. Illinois 276
5. California 277
6. Oklahoma 278
T7. Texas 279
T7. Oklahoma State 279
T9. Washington 281
T9. North Florida 281
11. Kent State 282
T12. Texas A&M 285
T12. LSU 285
T14. Arkansas 286
T14. South Carolina 286
T14. Tennessee 286
T14. UNLV 286
T14. Georgia 286
T19. St. Mary's (CA) 287
T19. UCF 287
T19. Florida State 287
22. Texas Tech 288
23. UCLA 289
24. Ball State 290
T25. Florida 291
T25. Southern California 291
T27. New Mexico 292
T27. Auburn 292
29. Coastal Carolina 293
30. TCU 294