NeSmith nine strokes back after first round at NCAA Tournament

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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

T33. Matt NeSmith (3) 70 (E)
T33. Will Starke (4) 70 (E)
T95. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 73 (+3)
T95. Sean Kelly (5) 73 (+3)
T113. Dykes Harbin (1) 74 (+4)

1. Arizona State 270 (-10)
2. Georgia Tech 274 (-6)
3. Alabama 275 (-5)
4. Illinois 276 (-4)
5. California 277 (-3)
6. Oklahoma 278 (-2)
T7. Texas 279 (-1)
T7. Oklahoma State 279 (-1)
T9. Washington 281 (+1)
T9. North Florida 281 (+1)
11. Kent State 282 (+2)
T12. Texas A&M 285 (+5)
T12. LSU 285 (+5)
T14. Arkansas 286 (+6)
T14. South Carolina 286 (+6)
T14. Tennessee 286 (+6)
T14. UNLV 286 (+6)
T14. Georgia 286 (+6)
T19. St. Mary's (CA) 287 (+7)
T19. UCF 287 (+7)
T19. Florida State 287 (+7)
22. Texas Tech 288 (+8)
23. UCLA 289 (+9)
24. Ball State 290 (+10)
T25. Florida 291 (+11)
T25. Southern California 291 (+11)
T27. New Mexico 292 (+12)
T27. Auburn 292 (+12)
29. Coastal Carolina 293 (+13)
30. TCU 294 (+14)

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