May 28, 1998
Albuquerque, NM–Charles Warren tied his career best with a 66 and all five Clemson golfers shot par or better, leading Clemson to a 278 team score and a third place ranking heading into the third round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at the University Course at the University of New Mexico. Clemson qualified for the final two rounds for the eighth time in nine years this decade, guaranteeing Clemson of another top-15 finish.
But, Larry Penley and the Tigers have high aspirations heading into the final 36 holes. Clemson has never won the NCAA Championship in golf and finds itself just eight strokes behind team leader UNLV. As well as Clemson played on Thursday, UNLV surpassed it, shooting a 269 team score, 19-under-par. The Rebels did their damage on the front nine where they shot an incredible 18-under par. Two UNLV golfers shot 30 on the front nine.
Clemson continued its consistent play on the back nine, shooting five under par compared to UNLV’s one-under. UNLV entered the event ranked #1 in the country, while Clemson was third. Georgia Tech was ranked second, and that is how the teams rank heading into Friday.
Clemson’s comeback was led by Warren, who shot six-under for the day and was six-under on the final 10 holes. The senior All-American who won this tournament in 1997 in Chicago, is just one stroke behind leader J.J. Henry of TCU. Warren has a 135 total, nine under par through two rounds. He is definitely in range of establishing a Clemson record for lowest individual score in an NCAA event. Mark Swygert set the mark with a 277 (11-under) in 1994 at McKinney, TX.
“This day started off rough for me,” said Warren. “I began the day missing a three-foot putt for par on the first hole. I never would have thought at that point that I would shoot 66. I made an eagle on nine and that was important, it got me going. Then, I made three birdies in a row on 13, 14, and 15. All the putts were short (under seven feet).
“My ball striking was very good today, I did not have to chip all day. I was either on the green or in the short fringe on every hole. The weather conditions were perfect. The wind was not a factor and the greens were perfect.
“We are playing well as a team. We had all five of us shoot par or better. I would love to win this tournament (individually), but if we could pull off the team championship, it would really cap my college career. I hope we are in contention as a team coming into the final nine holes on Saturday.”
Warren played in the featured group of the day. His playing partners were Matt Kuchar of Georgia Tech and Bill Lunde of UNLV. Lunde was seven under after 10 and finished with a 65. Kuchar, who finished 21st at the Master’s this year, shot 67.
In addition to Warren’s fine play, the Tigers had a 70 from freshman Lucas Glover, much improved over his 76 in the opening round. “Lucas came back strong for us today,” said Clemson head coach Larry Penley. “That was important. He played well and held it together. It was good to see Jonathan Byrd come back with an under par round. He was one-over at the turn and finished one- under.
“Charles really turned it on in the back nine. He is right where he wants to be individually. Having been through it last year, he will just go out and play and enjoy it the last two days.
“Overall, we are in good shape. We didn’t have as many players take it deep like UNLV did today, but we are in the hunt.”
Glover’s 70 was the best round by a Clemson freshman in the NCAA Tournament since Danny Ellis had a 69 in 1990 at Tarpons Springs, FL. It was his ninth under-par round of the season and his 14th at par or better. Maxon’s 71 was his sixth straight round under par and he is now 12 under par for his last 14 rounds of golf. Engler has been at par or better in seven of his last eight rounds.
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