Spartans End Fall Season At Stetson Invitational
Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate and head coach Todd Lawton will look to finish off the fall with a strong showing at the Stetson Invitational which starts Monday at Victoria Hills Country Club in DeLand, Fla. The tournament is hosted by Stetson and the Spartans will make their fourth-straight appearance in the tournament.
Upstate is one of nine teams in the tournament. The Spartans will be joined by Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville State, Lipscomb, Murray State and Stetson. Four of the nine schools - Upstate, Florida Gulf Coast, Lipscomb and Stetson - are in the A-Sun.
The teams will take to the Victoria Hills Country Club course that plays at 6,989 yards and is a par-72 layout. The course demands accuracy from tee to green, though players with length can take advantage of a few holes. The 54-hole event will be played with 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday.
Upstate is coming off of a sixth-place showing in a strong regional field at the Davidson Invitational. It marked the highest finish of the season in four tournaments for Upstate. Lawton hopes the team chemistry that has developed will continue as the Spartans play in a tournament where they have found success in the past three years. Upstate has finished no worse than fifth in the tournament, claiming third in 2008, fourth in 2007 and fifth last year. A Spartan has won two of the last three individual championships with Josh Gallman winning the title in 2007 and Michael Lawrence taking top honors in 2008.
Lawton will send the lineup of Brian Horton, Matthew Hopper, Brad Sill, Adam Goins and McKenzie Oref into action this week. Only Horton and Hopper have played in the tournament before. Horton claimed a tie for 25th in last year's tournament as one of three Spartans to finish in the top 25. Hopper is coming off of his best career finish, tying for third at the Davidson Invitational with a 2-under-par total.
Looking Back At The Davidson Invitational
Upstate improved its team score in each round and turned in its top performance of the season by claiming sixth place in the Davidson Invitational in the middle of October. The Spartans turned in rounds of 300, 295 and 294 to finish with an 889 total to finish head of six other schools in the tournament. Matthew Hopper led the way with two-straight rounds under par to finish tied for third at 2-under. He opened with a 75, but carded rounds of 69 and 70 to move under par and finish with the first top five and top 10 finish of his career. Brad Sill was also solid, finishing tied for 14th, while Brian Horton shot a 71 in his final round to finish tied for 22nd to give Upstate two players in the top 25.
Hopper Has Career Tournament
To say that sophomore Matthew Hopper has improved as the year has gone on is a tremendous understatement. He is one of just two Spartans to have played in every tournament this fall and owns the lead with a 73.4 stroke average. He began the year by shooting a 227, 11-over-par total at the Springhill Suites Intercollegiate. He followed that with a 222, 6-over-par total at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate. He finished at 218, 2-over-par at the Mizuno Savannah Intercollegiate. In the last tournament, the Davidson Invitational, he finished at 2-under-par, 214 to finish tied for third. His 54-hole totals have come down in each event so far this season, showing that he has gotten better and better as the year has progressed.
Sill's Consistent Streak Continues
Spartanburg's Brad Sill has played in all four tournaments this season. In what has become an amazing trend, his final score could almost be predicted before he starts. In four tournaments this fall, he has turned in 54-hole totals of 222, 221, 221 and 221, amazingly consistent scores.
Oref Makes History At Sea Trail
Sophomore McKenzie Oref learned a lot from playing with former Upstate standout Josh Gallman last year. Gallman is the best player to ever play in the history of the men's golf program. But, Oref can claim one achievement that Gallman cannot, owning the school record for the lowest round under par. Oref tied Gallman with a 66 as the lowest score in program history, but his 6-under total is the most under par at Upstate. Gallman's 66 came on a par-71 course and was 5-under.
Gallman Moves On At PGA Q School
While Upstate will close out its season this week at the Stetson Invitational, one former Spartan, Josh Gallman, will look to extend his year in the PGA's Q School. Gallman, who graduated in May as the best golfer in the history of the program, finished tied for 15th in the First Stage of Q School and will begin the Second Stage on Nov. 16 at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. If he gets through the Second Stage, he will move into the Final Stage of Q School with the hopes of earning his card on either the PGA or Nationwide Tours.