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Gamecocks set to hire accomplished men's golf coach

On3 imageby:Chris Clark06/11/24

South Carolina is expected to hire Rob Bradley to take the reins of the Gamecocks’ men’s golf program in Columbia, has learned.

Bradley has spent the past 11-plus years leading the golf program at Purdue, where he has turned the Boilermakers into a contender on the Big Ten and national level.

The Gamecocks are expected to approve a contract for Bradley during a Tuesday afternoon Board of Trustees meeting.

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Here is more on Bradley from his bio:

• Has led Purdue to the NCAA Championships in three of his first nine years (not including 2020 — canceled), one of two Big Ten teams that have accomplished that. 
• Led Purdue to the NCAA Regionals in eight of nine possible seasons, the longest stretch of postseason golf for the program since reaching the postseason in 19 straight seasons from 1949 to 1967. 
• Purdue has posted eight of the nine-best team stroke averages in school history during his tenure.
• In school history, Purdue has had 10 or more team rounds under par in a season eight different times. Seven of them have come under Bradley, including a school-record 17 team rounds of even or under par in 2021-22
• Led Purdue to its first Big Ten title of any kind since 1981 with a shared victory in the 2018 Big Ten Match Play Championship. Finished second by just five shots at the 2019 Big Ten Championship, Purdue’s highest finish since 2001. 
• In school history, there have been 14 team events where every round was even or under par. Thirteen of them have come in the Bradley era.
• There have been 31 rounds of 277 or better in school history — 24 of them have come under Bradley. There have been 16 rounds of 276 or better — 15 of them under Bradley. 
• There have been 27 team tournament scores of 855 or better in school history — 19 of them have come under Bradley, including the 10-lowest tournament scores in Purdue history. 
• Over the last six years, Herman Sekne (28th – 2023), Brian Carlson (56th – 2018), Hernan Sekne (64th – 2022) and Timmy Hildebrand (74th – 2019) were Purdue’s highest-ranked individuals since 2007.
• Sixtee of the 20 best single-season individual stroke averages have come during the Bradley era.

With a young lineup in 2022-23, Purdue advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the eighth time in nine tries and finished in the top 50 again of the Golfstat final rankings. Purdue boasted a 287.77 stroke average, which ranked second all-time at Purdue. Herman Sekne became Purdue’s first All-American since 2001-02 when he was named a third-team honoree after setting the school record for stroke average.

Two years ago, Purdue recorded one of its best seasons in school history, setting a school record for most under- or even-par rounds (17) and stroke average (286.63). The Boilermakers finished the season ranked 28th in the final Golfweek rankings, the Boilermakers’ highest ranking since finishing 18th in 2002. Purdue, which was ranked in the Golf Coaches Association of America top-25 for most of the season, had three players earn All-Big Ten accolades for the first time since 1981 and were paced by Herman Sekne and Joe Weiler, who both earned first-team accolades. During the course of the season, Purdue defeated NCAA Championship qualifiers Georgia, Ole Miss, Kansas, Arizona, Florida State, Ohio State, Liberty, East Tennessee State and Charleston and won its first tournament since the fall of 2019, when it won the Marquette Intercollegiate. Individually, Sekne finished the season second in school history in stroke average (71.17) and won four Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors — the second most in league history. Weiler and Cole Bradley also ended incredible careers with Weiler being one of five players in Purdue history to be named first-team All-Big Ten twice during their careers (Bill Hoffer, Lenny Hartlage, Lee Williamson, Pariya Junhasavasdikul). 

Three years ago, Purdue put itself in contention for an NCAA Regionals appearance, but the loss of the fall season hurt the Boilermakers. Nonetheless, there were still some highlights. Joe Weiler and Cole Bradley were named PING All-Midwest Region. Bradley reached the NCAA Championships final round, placing 39th and earning Honorable Mention All-American honors in the process. Weiler earned a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships, Purdue’s highest finish since 2007. 

In 2019-20, a young Purdue roster was in position to make another NCAA Regionals appearance before the worldwide pandemic hit. The Boilermakers won the Marquette Intercollegiate and finished second at the season-opening Island Resort Intercollegiate. Junior Joe Weiler was named All-Big Ten and to the PING All-Midwest Region team while posting the fourth-best stroke average in school history (72.05). Purdue’s 290.38 team stroke average ranked fifth in school history.

Five years ago, Purdue played its best golf late in the season. On the NCAA Regionals bubble, the Boilermakers surged into the field with a second-place finish at the Boilermaker Invitational and the Big Ten Championships, the team’s highest placing since 2001. Purdue’s season ended at NCAA Regionals with a ninth-place finish, but in the process showcased its youth as five returnees saw extensive action. Timmy Hildebrand was named first-team All-Big Ten after ranking second on Purdue’s single-season stroke average list (71.26) and finishing with nine top-20 showings, the second most in school history.

In 2017-18, Bradley oversaw a rapid improvement from a very young team to reach NCAA Regionals for the fifth straight season. After posting just a 34-31-1 fall record and a national ranking in the 60s, the Boilermakers posted a 71-26-3 head-to-head record and rose to the low 40s in the national rankings, while cutting almost five shots off its team average. The result was Purdue’s fifth straight regionals appearance. 

Seven years ago, Purdue rode the talents of seniors Austin Eoff and Fernando Barco to reach the NCAA Championships for the third time in Bradley’s first four years. The Boilermakers posted a 290.26 stroke average which was second at the time while Eoff became the third player in school history to earn All-Big Ten honors in four straight seasons and the first to earn four PING All-Region honors. Barco was named a second-team All-Big Ten honoree after posting the seventh-best stroke average in school history (72.66). 

The 2015-16 season was one of the most successful in school history, as the Boilermakers reached the NCAA Championships for the 28th time. Purdue won three events as a team, the most since 2011 and the fifth most in a season in school history. Purdue advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second time in three years and finished the season ranked No. 32, its highest final ranking since 2005 (31st). Bradley had three players named to the PING All-Midwest Region team and three players ranked in the single-season top 13 stroke average list, led by Austin Eoff’s 72.76 average. Four times during the year did a Purdue player win Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors and two players (Eoff, Brian Carlson) won individual medalist honors.

In his first year at Purdue, all Bradley did was lead the Boilermakers to their first NCAA Championship berth since 2005, the program’s highest NCAA Regional finish since 2002 and matching Purdue’s best Big Ten finish since 2007. Purdue accomplished all that with just one senior and three freshmen in its top six golfers. Two Boilermakers (Austin Eoff, Adam Schenk) were named to the All-Big Ten team for the first time since 2007 and three golfers (Eoff, Schenk, Enzo Perez) were selected to the PING All-Midwest Region squad for the first time in school history.

Bradley has also turned out golfers thriving in the professional ranks. The headliner is 2014 grad Adam Schenk, who just competed in the FedEx Cup for the third straight year, finishing the PGA Tour regular-season ranked No. 24 in the FedEx Cup, making over 4 million dollars in the 2023 season. He made the second stage of the playoffs for the first time in his career and is now exempt for the next two seasons. 

In addition, 2021 grad Joe Weiler is already on the Korn Ferry Tour, while Stuart Macdonald, Brian Carlson, Cole Bradley and Andrew Farraye are all on the PGA Canada Tour. Fernando Barco is playing on the PGA Latin America Tour. 

Bradley also develops coaches. Three former assistant coaches are head coaches with much success. Jake Amos at East Tennessee State has advanced to three straight NCAA Championships, while Mitch Kruwulycz reached the 2022 NCAA Championships with the College of Charleston. Austin Eoff took over Central Arkansas in 2023 and has had success on the recruiting front. 

Bradley, a former player of Devon Brouse’s at North Carolina, was named Purdue head men’s golf coach on July 10, 2013. Bradley spent the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach at Alabama, where he helped guide the Crimson Tide to a national championship.

Prior to Alabama, Bradley enjoyed a successful three-year tenure as an assistant at the University of North Florida (2009-12), during which the Ospreys qualified for the NCAA Regional three times and advanced to the NCAA Championships twice, finishing 14th in 2011 and tied for 12th in 2012.

During his time at UNF, Bradley helped tutor two players who combined for three All-America honors. Sean Dale was a two-time All-American, earning second-team honors in 2010 and third-team accolades in 2012. Kevin Aylwin garnered honorable mention recognition in 2012.

Bradley was a four-year starter for Brouse at North Carolina before embarking on a professional career. During his time in Chapel Hill, he helped lead the Tar Heels to nine tournament victories, two ACC Championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and a third-place finish at the 1993 NCAA Championships.

The 2012 graduate of Excelsior College spent seven years as a full member of the Nationwide Tour (1997, 2000-04 and 2008) and was a two-time participant in the U.S. Open (1997 and 2003). He was a six-time finalist at the PGA’s Q-School and won the 1999 Kentucky Open Championship. Bradley also claimed the 1995 New Jersey State Amateur Championship.

Bradley and his wife, Chastity, have a son, Cole, and a daughter, Wesley.

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