KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – The Charleston Southern Buccaneers climbed as high as sixth in the final round before finishing 13th as the host in the 2012 Wendy’s Kiawah Classic, which concluded Tuesday at Turtle Point Golf Club.
The Bucs fired a team 302 in the final round to climb four spots on a windy and cold final day at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. CSU finished the tournament at 914 (+62) and in the middle of the 26-team field.
“Once again another successful tournament at Turtle Point with the help of Wendy’s and Mike Giunta,” CSU head coach Mike Wilson said after Tuesday’s final round. “This was one of the largest collegiate fields of the year, and it took a lot of people to pull this event off in tough conditions. Congratulations to South Carolina on a convincing victory.”
South Carolina ran away with the tournament. The Gamecocks won by 20 strokes at after matching the tournament’s team record for a round (Kentucky ’03) at Turtle Point with a 282 in the opening round on Sunday. Their 284 (E) is the third lowest round in tournament history.
USC finished with a team 859 (+7) to distance itself from Winthrop (+27), which took second. Jacksonville State (+33) took third after a team 5-over in the final round. College of Charleston and Marquette round out the top five teams finishes.
South Carolina’s Caleb Sturgeon had two of the tournament’s four 68s, including one in the final round, to claim medalist honors. Sturgeon finished at 3-under for the tournament with a total of 213. He sets the event record at Turtle Point for 54 holes.
USC teammate Will Starke took second place after a 69 on Tuesday. He finished at 1-under, and along with Sturgeon, were the only two players under par for the event. Jacksonville State’s Tomaz Anderson and College of Charleston’s Zach Monroe tied for third at 2-over.
Sturgeon and Starke lead the 2012 Wendy’s Kiawah Classic All-Tournament Team, joining Anderson and Monroe. Also earning all-tournament honors were Ryan McCormich (St. John’s), Alex Ellis (College of Charleston), Matthew NeSmith (South Carolina), Zack Zaback (Connecticut), Dustin Dingus (Stetson), Kamito Hirai (Winthrop), and Amanjyot Singh (Campbell).
CSU’s Nicolas Baena was the Bucs’ top finisher. The freshman shot a 2-under 33 on his opening nine to climb into the Top 20 at the time, finishing with a round of 73 to end the event at 13-over and in XXXX place.
Sophomore Jarrett Swan added a 74 in his final round. Swan was 1-under at the turn before the wind picked up late in the afternoon. He birdied the 18th hole to finish with a 74 and climb into a tie for 44th.
Juniors C.J. Liner and Ross Thomson tied for 57th with a total of 231. Thomson wrapped his tournament up with a 78 and was 2-over through 14 holes, while Liner closed with a 77 (+6) to finish the event at 18-over.
Sophomore Choo Teck Ng finished at 24-over after an 80 in his final round. He went out in 2-over, before struggling down the stretch.
“I felt like (CSU) competed the best we have all year,” Wilson said. “Hopefully this will give us confidence heading into the spring and the Big South Championships.”
The event wraps up the Bucs fall schedule. CSU returns to action in February at the Jacksonville Invitational, played on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
2012 Wendy’s Kiawah Classic All-Tournament Team
Medalist - Caleb Sturgeon (USC)
Will Starke (USC)
Tomaz Anderson (Jacksonville State)
Zach Monroe (College of Charleston)
Ryan McCormich (St. John’s)
Alex Ellis (College of Charleston)
Matthew NeSmith (South Carolina)
Zack Zaback (Connecticut)
Dustin Dingus (Stetson)
Kamito Hirai (Winthrop)
Amanjyot Singh (Campbell)