Oct. 5, 2008
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate men's and women's golf teams are set to resume their seasons Monday and Tuesday at the Stono Cup hosted by College of Charleston at the Links at Stono Ferry.
The tournament is a 54-hole event for bothe the men's and women's fields. The eight teams in the women's field are Upstate, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Gardner-Webb, Houston Baptist, James Madison, Tennessee Tech and Wofford. The eight teams in the men's field are Upstate, Belmont, College of Charleston, Gardner-Webb, James Madison, Stephen F. Austin, Tennessee Tech and Wofford. The teams will play 36 holes Monday and the 18 holes Tuesday. An interesting twist in the tournament is that Tuesday's final round will combine the men's and women's teams in the same groupings with two men and two women playing in the same foursomes throught the round.
The Upstate men's team plays its fourth-straight week in the Stono Cup and looks to have a more consistent performance in the tournament. The Spartans began the season with a solid second-place finish at the Rutgers Invitational, but finished ninth and 11th in their last two outings. Upstate did play without standout junior and No. 1 player, Josh Gallman, during the ninth-place finish at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate and played against a field that featured six NCAA Regional teams from a year ago in an 11th-place finish at the Hartford Hawks Invitational last week. However, Upstate has not gotten consistent performances out of the four and five positions and look to change that trend this week.
"It's important," said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. "This is a golf tournament almost as demanding off the tee as Ballymeade was last week. The guys have a feel for what they need to do. But we need all five guys to play well. Having the four scores that count be low scores is important. We had to count a 79 at Rutgers and lost by one. We had to use an 80 last week and finished 11th in a tough field. If we could get the fourth score to be lower, it would make the difference. We really need to shoot for 75 to be our fourth score."
Josh Gallman, Baxter Culler, Michael Lawrence, Tyler Tucker and Jamie Lightsey will represent Upstate in the tournament. Gallman tops the Spartans with a 71.0 stroke average in two tournaments this fall. He has two to-10 efforts this year, finishing fourth at the Rutgers Invitational and ninth at the Hartford Hawks Invitational against a stout field. Baxter Culler has played tremendous golf and is second on the team with a 73.1 stroke average. He finished second at the Rutgers Invitational and 11th at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate for two top-15 efforts in three events thus far.
The Upstate women's team returns to the course for the first time since the Sea Trail Intercollegiate on Sept. 19-21. The team has turned in impressive rounds this season and has had quality results. The Spartans broke the single-round school record in back-to-back rounds at the Great Smoky Mountain Intercollegiate, shooting below 301 with a 299 for the first time in school history. Against a tough field at Sea Trail, Upstate finished 11th.
"We are so much more consistent this year than we ever have been," said Lawton. "All of our players are noticeably better than last year. The competition demands that we stay in that 300-310 range as a team. We have five players who can deliver the scores to get us there each round. Coach (Sandy) Halkett has led the way in working on some things with the team. Together, we have been able to improve on some areas, like being able to make six-foot putts more consistently."
Julie Miller, Richelle Wedzik, Richia Wedzik, Audrey Church and Jessica Wofford will represent Upstate in the tournament. All five have played in each tournament this year. Miller leads the Spartans with a 77.4 stroke average, two-tenths of a stroke better than Richelle Wedzik. Miller had her best effort at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate where the senior from Jeanette, Pa., finished 27th. Wedzik also had a strong effort at Sea Trail, finishing 24th. Like with the men's team, Lawton is looking for more consistent play out of the three, four and five positions in order for the Spartans to move up the leader board.
"It's really encouraging to see how well the men's and women's teams have traveled together this year," said Lawton. "They have shown very good support for each other and want to see each other do well. That's exciting to see."