Oct. 22, 2006
Clemson, SC – First-year freshmen Sam Saunders and Kyle Stanley, and sophomore Phillip Mollica all had opening round 74s to lead Clemson to a 297 team score and a 10th place standing after the first round of the 18-team Isleworth-UCF Collegiate at Isleworth Country Club in Windemere, FL. The Tigers had a nine-over-par team score, but stand just six shots out of the lead in the event that features seven of the top 15 teams in the nation according to the latest college golf poll.
Georgia and South Carolina lead the three-day 54-hole event after the first day with scores of 291. Texas and Tennessee are tied for third with 293 scores, while Oklahoma State and Florida are tied for fifth at 294, just three shots better than the Tigers. Arizona is seventh at 295, followed by Duke and North Carolina at 296. Clemson is tied with Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Georgia State.
Saunders, a freshman from Windemere, FL, the site of the tournament, was playing his first college round and had a strong gallery following him throughout the day. Saunders is the grandson of Hall of Fame golfer Arnold Palmer and Mr. Palmer was in the gallery on Sunday.
Saunders got off to a slow start, and was three over par through seven holes, but he birdied the par five 17th hole, his eighth hole of the day. With his grandfather watching near the 18th green, Saunders holed a greenside bunker shot for a birdie. He later eagled the third hole, his 12th of the day, to get to one-under-par. However he played the final six holes three-over-par to finish with his two-over-par 74.
“I was just trying to hit a good bunker shot,” said Saunders, who entered Clemson in August. “The fact that it went in was a little lucky, but I hit it just the way I wanted to.
“Whenever he gets a chance he comes out to watch,” said Saunders of his grandfather. “It’s not as often as either of us would like, but whenever he has the opportunity he tries to come out and support me.”
Stanley, Saunders classmate from Bellevue, WA, started strong with two birdies within the first three holes. But, he made bogeys on 14, 15 and 18 to finish the back side at one over par. He then finished with a 74. Mollica was consistent throughout the day and his only big blemish was a double bogey on the fourth hole.
Tanner Ervin, the elder statesman of this young Clemson team, shot a 75, three-over par. The junior from Mount Pleasant, SC had three birdies on the day, the high total among Clemson golfers. Ben Martin, another freshman who had the best stroke average on the Clemson team through the first two tournaments, shot a four-over-par 76 and his score did not count towards the Clemson team score. He had four bogeys on the back nine and shot 38.
Tournament action continues on Monday and Tuesday. The progress of the tournament can be followed on golfstat.com.
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