May 31, 2000
ClemsonTigers.com reported that the Tigers were in 15th place after round one, but in fact Clemson was 16th. We apologize for the mistake.
Opelika, AL-Freshman D.J. Trahan fired a one-under-par 71 Wednesday to rank as the only Tiger under par after the first round of the NCAA men’s golf championship at Grand National Country Club in Opelika, AL. The Tigers shot a 291 team score for the first round, three-over par on the 6984 yard course.
Clemson is coming off consecutive championships at the ACC and the NCAA East Regional, but the Tigers opening round score was good enough for only 16th place heading into the second round. Clemson must rank in the top 15 after two days, or it will not qualify for the final two rounds. Clemson has finished in the top eight of this event each of the last three years.
Texas holds the first round lead, while Georgia Tech is second and Oklahoma State is third. The Tigers are 17 shots out of the lead, however the Tigers are just six shots out of fourth, so there is plenty of room for movement on Thursday.
Trahan shot a 71 in his first NCAA championship round, much improved from his average of 81 for his three rounds at the NCAA regional two weeks ago. The round included the only eagle by a Tiger on Wednesday. He eagled the par 5, 563-yard seventh hole. He reached the green with a driver and six iron, then made a 15-foot up-hill-over-a-ridge putt.
Jani Saari and John Engler each had scores of 73 on Wednesday. It was the most consistent round of the year for Saari, Clemson’s nunber-five player. He made 17 pars and one bogey (8th hole) in recording the 73. It marked the 16th time in his 22 career rounds that his score has counted for the Tiger team. Saari finished 23rd at the NCAA Tournament at Hazeltine last year, so he has had success at this event.
Engler shot a two-under-par 34 on the back nine, but shot 39 on the back in recording his 73. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes on his opening nine holes, but a bogey on the seventh hole, his 16th of the day, put him over par. He was within 25 feet of the hole in two shots on the par five, but he took four shots to get down from there. He had to chip from the rough over a trap and the ball went behind the pin down a slope and he three-putted from there, missing a three-foot putt for par.
Jonathan Byrd, Clemson’s only senior, had a 74 on Wednesday. He shot even par on the back nine, but had 38 on the front, including a bogey on the par four 442-yard ninth hole, his final hole of the day. He hit his second shot over the green into deep rough.
Glover scored an 80 on Wednesday, tied for his worst round as a Clemson Tiger and his worse round in 70 rounds dating to his freshman year. He had scored over 75 just two times all year heading into Wednesday. The round included three bogeys within his first nine holes. He then had consecutive birdies on the second, third and fourth holes, and finished with a 36 on the front side, his second nine of the day. Still, his score of 80 did not count, just the fourth time all year he was a non-counter in the Clemson lineup.
“We played scared,” said Head Coach Larry Penley, who is bringing his 17th Clemson team to the NCAA championships. “We have to find a way to play loose tomorrow or it will be a long ride home. The course was there for the taking. It looked like we were grinding instead of scoring.
“What surprised me was that we didn’t play smart. We short-sided ourselves time after time. Jani Saari played very well and I am very proud of D.J. Trahan, who was playing in his first NCAA Tournament. But, we have to get something from our All-Americans if we are going to make the cut and make a run.
“We were tight as ticks. I tried to drive home the point to them that we had a losing record to Georgia Tech, and that there are two other regional champions in this field. We certainly could not be over comfident. Tomorrow we must be more aggressive.”
“It was an up and down round for me,” said Trahan. “I was happy with the 71 because it was my first NCAA championship round. The eagle on the seventh hole was big for me. I hit driver and six iron and made a 15 footer for the three. It was kind of a bogey, birdie round for me. I need to be consistent tomorrow.”
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