The South Carolina men’s golf team made an incredible run at securing a spot in match play in the final round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship on Monday but came up just short after shooting a 282 (+2) at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The Gamecocks concluded the week with a 54-hole total of 846 (+6) to finish in ninth place, which is the second best finish in program history at the national championship. The total of 846 is also the best 54-hole NCAA Championship total in school history.
After falling down the leaderboard early in the round on Monday, South Carolina battled back to climb as high as tied for fifth on the back nine at 1-over par. However, the Gamecocks gave up five strokes down the stretch to finish one shot back of eighth place. The top eight teams advanced to match play on Tuesday.
Despite the outcome, South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald couldn’t have been more proud of his team’s effort in the final round and the successful season it had.
“I’m very proud,” McDonald said. “At one point today we were looking at about 15th place early on the front nine, and they fought back and got us inside the top eight. We just didn’t finish the round off. Hats off to the guys for fighting back and giving us a chance. It’s a really good group of kids. They fought hard today and represented our university really well.”
Junior Will Murphy helped lead the way as he made a run at the individual national title. A native of Columbia, S.C., Murphy posted a final-round 69 (-1) to finish tied for 15th with a total of 208 (-2), the lowest 54-hole NCAA Championship total in program history. He was within one stroke of first place at 5-under late in the round but made bogey and double bogey on his final two holes to fall out of contention and into a tie for 15th, the fourth highest finish by a Gamecock all-time at the national championship.
Junior Caleb Sturgeon was the next highest Gamecock on the leaderboard as he carded a final-round 73 (+3) to finish tied for 29th with a total of 210 (E). After playing his first four holes at 4-over, Sturgeon settled down and played his final 14 holes at 1-under without a bogey.
Sophomore Will Starke finished tied for 55th with a total of 214 (+4) after shooting a 72 (+2) on Monday. He played his first five holes at 4-over but birdied three of his next four holes to make the turn at 1-over. He was able to get to 1-under on the day by playing his first seven holes on the back nine at 2-under, but a double bogey and bogey on his final two holes dropped him back to 2-over heading into the clubhouse.
Freshman Ben Dietrich fired the low round of the day for the Gamecocks, shooting a 2-under 68 to finish tied for 109th with a total of 220 (+10). After turning in a 1-over 36 on the front nine, Dietrich was near flawless on the back side, recording two birdies, an eagle on the par-5 seventh and just one bogey.
Rounding out the lineup, sophomore Matt NeSmith posted a 77 (+7) to finish the week tied for 141st with a total of 228 (+18).
Stanford finished first with a total of 827 (-13), while Alabama (836), LSU (836), Oklahoma State (840), Georgia Tech (841), UCLA (844), SMU (845) and Illinois (845) all advanced to match play. Stanford’s Cameron Wilson defeated Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans in a playoff to win the individual national title.
The Gamecocks turned in one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2013-14. Carolina recorded three tournament wins and produced a school-record seven-straight top-three finishes during the regular season.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
T15. Will Murphy (5) 70-69-69=208 (-2)
T29. Caleb Sturgeon (2) 66-71-73=210 (E)
T55. Will Starke (1) 64-78-72=214 (+4)
T109. Ben Dietrich (4) 72-80-68=220 (+10)
T141. Matthew NeSmith (3) 77-74-77=228 (+18)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Stanford 281-267-279=827 (-13)
T2. Alabama 274-278-284=836 (-4)
T2. LSU 279-278-279=836 (-4)
T4. Oklahoma State 277-279-284=840 (E)
5. Georgia Tech 277-282-282=841 (+1)
6. UCLA 279-284-281=844 (+4)
T7. SMU 275-285-285=845 (+5)
T7. Illinois 285-280-280=845 (+5)
9. South Carolina 272-292-282=846 (+6)
10. Houston 284-285-279=848 (+8)
T11. California 279-289-282=850 (+10)
T11. Georgia 286-287-277=850 (+10)
13. Texas 289-278-284=851 (+11)
14. Oregon 284-297-271=852 (+12)
15. Washington 279-287-287=853 (+13)
T16. Vanderbilt 281-285-288=854 (+14)
T16. Oklahoma 273-287-294=854 (+14)
T18. Arkansas 292-286-279=857 (+17)
T18. Kentucky 288-286-283=857 (+17)
20. Missouri 283-289-287=859 (+19)
21. UAB 282-285-295=862 (+22)
22. Georgia State 285-290-288=863 (+23)
23. Auburn 274-292-300=866 (+26)
24. Florida State 286-301-283=870 (+30)
25. Iowa State 278-299-294=871 (+31)
26. Kennesaw State 294-294-284=872 (+32)
27. Purdue 286-289-298=873 (+33)
28. Virginia Tech 294-301-281=876 (+36)
29. Texas A&M 296-288-297=881 (+41)
30. Southern California 296-298-295=889 (+49)