Behind a career-low 68 (-4) from freshman Ben Dietrich, the 24th-ranked South Carolina men’s golf team shot a 281 (-7) on Sunday at Bulls Bay Golf Club to wrap up the opening round of the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in a tie for first place.
The Gamecocks are tied with Missouri for the lead at 7-under and are in position to earn their fourth tournament title of the season, which would tie the school record. Dietrich, whose previous career low was a 70, is in a three-way tie for the lead at 4-under with Virginia’s Derek Bard and College of Charleston’s Josh Lorenzetti.
“We played pretty well overall but lost a few shots on the closing holes, and that stings a little,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “I’m really happy for Ben and the round he played. He’s really starting to get comfortable with his game and he looked really good today. We should be in position to make a run at the leaderboard tomorrow and are looking forward to the challenge.”
A native of Bluffton, S.C., Dietrich was on fire early on as he birdied three of his first four holes and made the turn with a bogey-free 33 (-4). He then birdied the 10th and 11th holes and made par on No. 12 before recording his only blemish of the day, a double bogey on the par-5 13th. Dietrich made par the rest of the way to get into the clubhouse at 4-under.
Sophomore Matt NeSmith isn’t far behind as he is in a tie for 10th after shooting a 2-under 70 on Sunday. He was tied with Dietrich with two holes left to play but made back-to-back bogeys to end the round. NeSmith wrapped up the day with an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys on his scorecard.
Coming off his first collegiate win, sophomore Will Starke turned in another solid round, carding a 1-under 71 to end the afternoon in a tie for 18th. He played a very steady round, recording two birdies and just one bogey.
Junior Caleb Sturgeon is in a tie for 25th after posting an even-par 72. Sturgeon tallied four birdies, with all four coming in a row on holes seven through 10, and four bogeys on the day.
Rounding out the lineup, junior Will Murphy turned in a 73 (+1) to finish the round in a tie for 41st, recording three birdies and four bogeys.
College of Charleston and Wake Forest are in a tie for third with a total of 282 (-6), while Virginia and Kentucky round out the top five in a tie for fifth with a total of 283 (-5).
Second-round play is scheduled to begin on Monday at 9 a.m. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
T1. Ben Dietrich (5) 68 (-4)
T10. Matt NeSmith (2) 70 (-2)
T18. Will Starke (1) 71 (-1)
T25. Caleb Sturgeon (4) 72 (E)
T41. Will Murphy (3) 73 (+1)
T1. Missouri 281 (-7)
T1. South Carolina 281 (-7)
T3. College of Charleston 282 (-6)
T3. Wake Forest 282 (-6)
T5. Virginia 283 (-5)
T5. Kentucky 283 (-5)
7. Auburn 285 (-3)
8. North Carolina State 287 (-1)
9. Charleston Southern 290 (+2)
10. Wisconsin 293 (+5)
11. North Carolina 294 (+6)
T12. S. Carolina-Aiken 297 (+9)
T12. GRU Augusta 297 (+9)
14. Duke 298 (+10)
15. Akron 302 (+14)