S. Carolina sophomore Starke leads NCAA Rd. 1

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Will Starke sure has come a long way since he lost the Toilet Bowl Open.

That’s right, earlier this season the South Carolina sophomore was part of a three-man team that competed in a grudge match at one of the Gamecocks’ local clubs.

At stake: The losing squad had to scrub a teammate’s apartment bathroom, shower and kitchen.

Team Starke lost the three-round event by a few shots, and he was left cleaning up senior Caulder Moore’s dirt and grime. It took more than an hour just to sterilize the bathroom.

“It was pretty gross,” Starke said. “He’s a pretty dirty individual.”

“He has recovered well from that,” South Carolina coach Bill McDonald joked. “But that’s part of that mental strength he’s been working on.”

Last year as a freshman, Starke was benched for an event because of a poor attitude. He has always set high standards for himself, but at one point he went too far.

“I had just lost it mentally,” he said. “I acted like a child.”

On-course comportment remains a constant battle, but this season Starke won the Seahawk Intercollegiate and posted four other top-10 finishes.

On Saturday, he cleaned up the final 13 holes of a 6-under 64 that gave him the lead in the individual race. He came home with a back-nine 30, which included a hole-out eagle on 13 and three birdies in a row to close. 

South Carolina junior Caleb Sturgeon – Starke’s roommate – added a 66 for the Gamecocks as they posted the best round of the morning wave, an 8-under 272.

“He just keeps getting better with handling his emotions,” McDonald said of Starke. “He’s light years from that point (a year ago).”

Probably because he's no longer down in the dumps.