April 22, 2009
Buies Creek, N.C. - USC Upstate golfers Josh Gallman and Baxter Culler have been the backbone of the Spartans since they stepped foot on campus as freshmen. The two delivered again in the final round of the A-Sun Championships held at a windy Keith Hills Country Club Wednesday, both carding 1-over-par 73 on the day to help Upstate move up one spot in the standings to a seventh-place finish in the conference tournament.
Upstate started the day in a tie for eighth place, but turned in a 303 score on the day to break its tie with Jacksonville and move ahead of Kennesaw State into seventh. Kennesaw State had entered the day in third place but a 318 moved the Owls down five positions into eighth. Jacksonville finished ninth after posting a 306 Wednesday.
"I think the round could have been better but for the 30-40 mile per hour winds which made play really tough," said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. "It was incredible watching shots. One guy would hit a shot short and the next guy would step up, take another club, and the wind would change and put the ball over the green. The winds not only swirled, but gusted as well. The greens were really firm. The hole locations were definitely the toughest for the final round. It was tough to get it in the hole.
"Josh and Michael (Lawrence) turned in really good three-day performances. I know there are a few holes that both wish they could have back today. But, overall, the scores were so high today and they played well. They had two very, very strong performances all week."
Upstate's 303 was the first time it had not broken 300 in the tournament. The Spartans finished with an 893 54-hole total to finish seventh, just three strokes back of Stetson in sixth. Campbell, playing on its home course, led from start to finish and won the team championship by seven strokes over defending champion North Florida. Campbell had an 867 total. North Florida totaled 874 and was followed by Mercer (876), 27th-ranked East Tennessee State (881), Florida Gulf Coast (882), Stetson (890), Upstate (893), Kennesaw State (894), Jacksonville (896), Belmont (900) and Lipscomb (916).
On a day when the winds were howling, most of the scores went up over the first two rounds. However, Gallman and Culler were simply solid. Gallman, a junior from Gaffney, S.C., began his round with a bogey on his first hole, the par-4 10th, but recovered to birdie the par-4 11th. He added another bogey and birdie to go out at even-par. He finished his final nine with eight pars and a bogey to finish with a 73 and in a tie for fifth individually at 1-over-par. It marked his program-best 13th top-5 finish of his career. He led the tournament in par-3 scoring at 2-under and was named to the all-tournament team for finishing in the top-5.
Culler, a senior from Hartsville, S.C., was steady throughout the day. He had a bogey with eight pars on his front nine and a birdie, bogey and seven pars on his back nine to finish at 73. He finished the tournament tied for 41st with a 229 total.
"Baxter was our first off this morning. He stepped up on the first hole and ripped his tee shot right down the middle. To make two bogeys and one birdie on a day when everyone was hitting the ball all over the place was impressive," said Lawton.
After starting the round with four consecutive pars, Michael Lawrence, a junior out of Easley, S.C., struggled on his next four holes, with three bogeys and a double bogey. However, he regained his composure and finished his final 10 holes at just 1-over to turn in a 78 on the day. The effort allowed him to claim a top-10 finish tied for eighth with a 218 total.
Bryan Otis, a freshman from Fort Mill, S.C., also struggled on his front nine, but rallied on his back nine. He finished the day with a 79 for a 54-hole total of 232. He finished 46th in the tournament. Tyler Tucker, a senior from Gray Court, S.C., carded an 80 Wednesday and finished tied for 47th with a 234 total.
East Tennessee State's Michael Stewart carded his second straight round under par, finishing with a 71 Wednesday to win the individual A-Sun Championship. He finished the tournament at 3-under, one stroke ahead of Campbell's Vaita Guillaume at 2-under-par.