Feb. 22, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate men's golf team is set to open play at the Wexford Intercollegiate Monday as one of 16 teams in the 54-hole event hosted by Francis Marion at the Wexford Plantation on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Upstate will have its full arsenal of players this week as Baxter Culler, Josh Gallman, Michael Lawrence, Jamie Lightsey and Tyler Tucker are set to begin the tournament. The field is a good mix of strong Division I teams and nation's top Division II team, USC Aiken. In addition to Upstate, Francis Marion and USC Aiken, the field includes Bowling Green State, Cleveland State, Davidson, George Mason, George Washington, Marshall, Ohio, Presbyterian, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Joseph's, USC Aiken, Wofford and defending champion, Elon.
"There's a really good mix of teams that should be very competitive," said Lawton. "All of the teams are capable of shooting even par and recording good scores. The course is setup to be more precise with your shots. It doesn't require great length. Getting some good looks at some birdies and hitting accurate shots is going to be important to shooting good scores."
Upstate is coming off a 10th-place finish out of 10 teams at the JU Invitational played last week at Dye's Valley Course at the TPC at Sawgrass. However, four of Upstate's top five players were suspended for the tournament. With the team at full strength, head coach Todd Lawton expects the results to be much different, despite the strong field at the Wexford.
Josh Gallman has led the team the last two seasons. He tops the team with a 73.4 stroke average with two top-5 and four top-10 finishes in five events. Baxter Culler and Michael Lawrence have also provided some punch this season. Culler owns a 74.4 stroke average with five top-20 finishes in six events. Lawrence won the Stetson/CFSC Invitational in Upstate's final fall tournament and owns a 75.1 stroke average with two top-10 finishes in six events. Tyler Tucker is coming off a top-15 performance at last week's JU invitational, while Jamie Lightsey has one top-20 finish in four events.