Gamecocks Climb Into Position to Earn NCAA Championship Berth

BREMERTON, Wash. — The top-seeded South Carolina men’s golf team moved into position to earn a NCAA Championship berth after posting a 5-under 283 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Bremerton Regional at Gold Mountain Golf Club’s Olympic Course.

The Gamecocks moved two spots up the leaderboard into fourth place with a 36-hole total of 571 (-5). TCU leads the tournament with a total of 564 (-12). UAB is in second with a total of 565 (-11), while Southern California (569) and Baylor (573) are third and fifth, respectively. The top five teams and low individual not on those teams will advance to NCAA Championship.

Carolina finished the back nine in strong fashion to make the move into the top five. After playing the first four holes of the back side in 3-over as a team, the Gamecocks played the final six holes in 7-under without recording a bogey.

Carolina junior Sean Kelly continued his solid play from the first round, firing a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for seventh with a 36-hole total of 139 (-5). His round of 68 is a career low for a NCAA Regional. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Kelly tallied five birdies, including one on the par-4 18th to end the round, and recorded just one bogey on the afternoon. He is just three strokes back of Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, who leads the tournament with a total of 136 (-8).

Juniors Will Starke and Matt NeSmith wrapped up the round in a tie for 17th with a total of 143 (-1). Starke carded a 2-under 70 with five birdies and three bogeys. He was 3-under over his final six holes and did not record a bogey during that stretch. NeSmith finished his round with two birdies and two bogeys. He made birdie on the par-4 18th for the second-straight day to close out his round.

Senior Will Murphy fell into a tie for 36th with a total of 148 (+4) after shooting a 75 (+3) on Friday, while senior Caleb Sturgeon bounced back from an opening-round 77 to card a 73. After starting his round with a double bogey and two bogeys, Murphy played his final 15 holes in 1-under with just one more bogey. Sturgeon, who is tied for 48th with a total of 150 (+6), recorded two birdies and three bogeys. He played the back nine in even par with no bogeys.

Round Changer

Kelly recorded his only bogey of the day on No. 5 and proceeded to play the final 13 holes in 4-under.

Notable

•             A top-five finish on Saturday would clinch Carolina’s third-straight trip to the NCAA Championship.

•             The round of 283 is Carolina’s lowest at a regional since shooting 275 in the final round of the 2010 East Regional.

•             As a team, the Gamecocks played the final six holes in 7-under without a bogey.

•             Kelly’s 68 is a career low for a NCAA Regional.

•             After recording his only bogey of the round on the par-3 fifth, Kelly played the final 13 holes in 4-under.

•             Starke played the final six holes in 3-under.

•             Sturgeon carded a bogey-free 36 on the back nine.

•             NeSmith, Starke and Kelly all made birdie on the par-4 18th.

•             Murphy began his round with a double bogey and two bogeys but played the final 15 holes in 1-under with just one more bogey.

Quotable

South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald

“Sean Kelly just played an incredible round. I thought he looked great all day. The guys kept us in the golf tournament. I was really proud of how they came out today. They looked more focused and a little bit more like the team we had seen most of the year. Our two seniors will be leading us out tomorrow for the final round. I’m hoping they can get us off to a good start. I’m sure it’s going to be quite a battle. The final round of regionals is always interesting.”

Up Next

The Gamecocks will tee off in the final round on Saturday beginning at 7:50 a.m. and will be paired with Baylor and Iowa State. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS

T7. Sean Kelly (5)                              71-68=139 (-5)

T17. Matthew NeSmith (1)          71-72=143 (-1)

T17. Will Starke (2)                           73-70=143 (-1)

T36. Will Murphy (3)                       73-75=148 (+4)

T48. Caleb Sturgeon (4)                 77-73=150 (+6)

TEAM STANDINGS

1. TCU                                                   281-283=564 (-12)

2. UAB                                                  280-285=565 (-11)

3. Southern California                    281-288=569 (-7)

4. South Carolina                              288-283=571 (-5)

5. Baylor                                               293-280=573 (-3)

6. Iowa State                                      287-287=574 (-2)

7. Washington                                   287-290=577 (+1)

8. Michigan                                         292-288=580 (+4)

9. UC Davis                                          289-295=584 (+8)

10. Pepperdine                                                 292-295=587 (+11)

11. VCU                                                304-288=592 (+16)

12. Sam Houston State                  300-295=595 (+19)

13. Cleveland State                         305-291=596 (+20)

14. South Dakota                              298-304=602 (+26)

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