March 7, 2010
Spartanburg, S.C. - After playing along the East Coast of the United States in Jacksonville and Charleston to open the spring season, the USC Upstate men's golf team will deal with the steady tropical winds on the East Coast of Puerto Rico when it tees off in the Palmas Del Mar Collegiate Classic Monday. The 54-hole, three-day tournament will be played on the 6,850 yard, Par-72 Flamboyan Course at the Palmas Del Mar Resort. The tournament, hosted by Big East Conference member St. John's, will consist of 14 teams and will see 18 holes of action Monday through Wednesday.
Upstate head coach Todd Lawton will send the same lineup used to secure a tie or eighth at last week's Wendy's Charleston Shootout, penciling in Josh Gallman, Nate Irvin, Matthew Hopper, Brian Horton and Michael Lawrence into the field. Gallman is coming off of a fourth-place finish at last week's tournament, while a solid third option emerged with the strong play of junior Nate Irvin. Irvin finished as the second-lowest Spartan in tournament, finishing tied for 11th in his first outing with the Upstate golf team. If he can continue to play at a high level, Lawton will have three strong players in Gallman, Lawrence and Irvin, while searching for a fourth low score in order to move up the leaderboard.
"We really need to count rounds in the mid-70s in order to be up higher on the leaderboard," said Lawton after the final round of the Wendy's Charleston Shootout. Given the fact that Horton and Hopper, in addition to other players on the team but not in this week's lineup, have proven that they can post low scores as well, Lawton can be cautiously optimistic that the team is starting to come around.
Upstate will join 13 other teams in the field at this week's tournament in Humacao, a town southeast of San Juan and Carolina, taking on Bowling Green, Ft. Hays, Indianapolis, James Madison, Johnson & Wales, Loyola (Ill.), Ohio, Old Dominion, Rollins, Seton Hall, St. John's, St. Thomas Aquinas and Wilmington. The Spartans will play with Bowling Green and Ft. Hays in the first round.
Looking Back At The Wendy's Charleston Shootout
Junior Nate Irvin nearly stole the spotlight in last week's Wendy's Charleston Shootout, but in the end senior Josh Gallman added to his lengthy resume by tying for fourth place while leading Upstate to a tie for eighth in the 15-team field. Gallman posted a 3-under-par total for the tournament to garner his program-best 17th top five individual finish. Irvin, playing in his first tournament as a member of the Upstate squad, finished in a tie for 11th. Despite the performances of Gallman and Irvin, Upstate struggled to get consistent third and fourth scores. The next closest Upstate duffer was Michael Lawrence, who posted a tie for 56th.
Given Upstate's ability to work on mistakes and learn from round to round has begun to play off. In the last two events, the Spartans have not only lowered their rounds in each tournament, each of the last six rounds have been lower than the one before. When the Spartans opened the JU Invitational at the world famous Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass with a 329, Lawton began to send a message to his team. The players responded as Upstate carded rounds of 321 and 304 to close out the event. Upstate then posted rounds of 301, 298 and 296 in the Wendy's Charleston Shootout. Lawton certainly hopes the trend will continue this week.
Irvin Steps Into The Limelight
Nate Irvin stepped away from the golf team at North Greenville University after two successful seasons from 2006-08. He transferred to Upstate in the fall of 2008 and stayed away from the game. But, with the fire to compete in college golf still burning inside, he worked to become eligible to play for Upstate and saw his first action as a member of the Spartans last week. He was simply impressive, shooting rounds of 75, 70 and 73 to tie for 11th in last the Wendy's Charleston Shootout. He was able to knock off a year and a half of rust from his game, giving head coach Todd Lawton serious hopes of adding another low number to the team score each round.
Gallman's National Ranking
Senior Josh Gallman has made his mark on Upstate men's golf. The most accomplished player in the history of the program at Upstate, he is also making his mark in amateur golf as one of the world's and nations' top-ranked players. He enters the Palmas Del Mar Collegiate Classic ranked No. 140 in the world and No. 72 in the United States in the latest ranking report released by the R&A. The ranking does not reflect his fourth-place finish in the Wendy's Charleston Shootout. He is ranked No. 219 in the world and No. 90 in the United States in the latest ScratchPlayers.com ranking. He is No. 139 in the latest Golfstat Cup ranking, a listing of the top college golfers in NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA and JUCO.
Lineup By The Numbers
The lineup of Josh Gallman, Michael Lawrence, Nate Irvin, Matthew Hopper and Brian Horton stand a combined 961-670 for a winning percentage of .589 in 2009-10. Gallman owns an individual title, four top five and five top 10 finishes this year. He leads the Spartans with an .895 winning percentage and a 72.0 stroke average. Gallman and Lawrence are the only two players who have played in all seven events this season, while Horton has seen action in six tournaments.